MALACANANG is not alarmed by the latest survey figures showing a decrease in trust in President Rodrigo Duterte among the poor.
“Not alarmed. I would say there was a dip, not an erosion,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday in his regular press briefing on the results of a Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated survey held in March.
The March poll showed that compared to December 2016 figures, the trust in Duterte among the poorest Class E dropped by 11 percentage points, and 7 percentage points among Class D.
The lower ratings among these socioeconomic classes, and the decrease in his ratings among regions in the country topped by Luzon, dragged down Duterte’s national trust rating. Some observers say the drop in trust ratings among the poor could indicate that Duterte’s drug war, which has led to killings and shoot-outs in poor communities, is taking its toll on the sector.
While he shared Abella’s view, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chairman Terry Ridon admitted that the administration’s drug war and anti-poverty programs are “a work in progress.”
“At this point, very important would be the question on whether or not we have been able to deliver already the promises to the poor and I think this is something that is still a work in progress,” Ridon said.
Ridon also admitted that the bloody campaign against drugs has affected many of the poor.
He admitted that much of the [Oplan] Tokhang is being undertaken in urban poor communities.
Oplan Tokhang is the Philippine National Police anti-drug campaign involving operations focused on drug busts in communities.
The President had directed policemen to shoot dead drug suspects who fight back.
Since drug addiction and trafficking are also pervasive in these communities, Ridon said that the poor stand to benefit from the continued drug war.
“I think with respect to the drug war, it is in the interest of the poor and urban poor to really see that criminality and the drug problem is resolved within their communities,” he said.
Ridon stressed that the delivery of anti-poverty programs have to be “expedited” to be able to respond to the drop in trust among the poor.
As for the drug war, Ridon said he supports a “softer approach” – one that emphasizes community-based efforts to wean addicts from drugs.
He said other agencies, like the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, are focused on this task.
“You will have the community leaders in those areas that should be able to really shepherd many of the communities against drugs and that is what we rally want to do, empowering the peoples’ organizations, NGOS within these urban poor communities to really stand against drugs,” Ridon said.
Based on surveys, the President’s drug war remains popular among many citizens, though a majority also say they are concerned they would become victims of extrajudicial killings.