By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the third quarter of 2018 showed that 76 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs for a net satisfaction rating of +64, classified as “very good.”
Twelve percent were dissatisfied.
The third quarter survey conducted from September 15 to 23 with 1,500 respondents is one point below the +65 (78 percent satisfied, 13 percent dissatisfied) in June 2018, but still “very good.”
It is likewise similar to the very good +64 (75 percent satisfied, 12 percent dissatisfied) in March 2018.
SWS pointed out that satisfaction with the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs was at an excellent +76 when it was first surveyed in September 2016.
It was highest in December 2016 at an excellent +77.
However, it has been at the +63 to +66 (very good) range since March 2017, reaching its lowest rating of +63 in September 2017.
The one-point decline in nationwide net satisfaction with the anti-illegal drug campaign in September 2018 was due to decreases in support in Mindanao and Metro Manila, offset by increases in the rest of Luzon and Visayas.
Net satisfaction with the campaign against illegal drugs stayed excellent in Mindanao, falling from +84 (89 percent satisfied, 5 percent dissatisfied) in June 2018 to +70 (78 percent satisfied, 8 percent dissatisfied) in September 2018.
Out of nine survey rounds since September 2016, it has been excellent in eight and very good in one.
It stayed very good in Metro Manila, although down by 12 points from +67 (79 percent satisfied, 12 percent dissatisfied) in June to +55 (72 percent satisfied, 17 percent dissatisfied) in September.
This is the lowest net satisfaction rating recorded in Metro Manila since the question was first fielded in September 2016.
It also stayed very good in the rest of Luzon, but up by eight points from +58 (74 percent satisfied, 16 percent dissatisfied) in June to +66 (78 percent satisfied, 12 percent dissatisfied) in September.
At least Grade 4
Meanwhile, the same SWS survey also showed that five in 10 Filipinos agree with the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct mandatory drug tests on students who are at least in Grade 4.
Fifty-one percent agreed (31 percent strongly agree, 20 percent somewhat agree), 36 percent disagreed (24 percent strongly disagree, 12 percent somewhat disagree), while 13 percent were undecided.
This translates to a net agreement (percent agree minus percent disagree) of +15, classified by SWS as “moderately strong.”
The net agreement with the proposal was highest in Visayas at “very strong” +47 (69 percent agree, 21 percent disagree), followed by Mindanao at “moderately strong” +25 (51 percent agree, 26 percent disagree), Metro Manila at “moderately strong” +17 (53 percent agree, 36 percent disagree), and rest of Luzon at “neutral” -6 (42 percent agree, 48 percent disagree).
SWS noted that the net agreement over mandatory drug testing for Grades 4 and up and among those undecided and dissatisfied with the government’s anti-drug campaign was “neutral.”
Agreement with the proposed mandatory drug testing was highest among those who are satisfied with the performance of President Duterte, at a moderately strong +20 (55 percent agree, 35 percent disagree).
It was a neutral -1 (31 percent agree, 32 percent disagree) among those undecided about President Duterte, and a neutral -3 (45 percent agree, 48 percent disagree) among those dissatisfied with the President.
Malacañang is supporting not only PDEA’s proposal but also the memorandum of a Baguio City college to conduct mandatory pregnancy tests.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement following the public backlash over the drug and pregnancy tests due to possible violation of the students’ right to privacy.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that any parent would want to know if their child is involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I think that’s a good idea because at least the parents will know whether or not their children are addicted or are being used in the drug industry,” he said.
The Palace official also said that there is no need to amend the law even if it only allows mandatory random drug testing among high school students and above. But if there is a need to do so, Panelo said the Palace will support it.
The Presidential legal counsel also said he does not think the PDEA proposal violates the law, saying no parent will disagree with it.
“As a parent, I will want it because we will never know how our children in schools would be influenced or used by persons outside of a family,” he added.
Panelo said the State may resort to such measures as it has the obligation to protect its citizen from harm, particularly from illegal drugs.
“There is a drug menace in this country. That will be the basis. Parenspatriae doctrine is another. The State is responsible for the safety of the citizens in a country,” he argued.
Panelo, likewise does not think that the memorandum directing female students taking up Dentistry, Nursing, and Pharmacy at Pines City college to undergo a mandatory pregnancy test violates the law.
“From what I gather, the schools are alarmed that certain laboratory equipment might affect pregnant students. So it’s more of a health care,” he said.
“If it’s precisely for your health, why should it be violative?” he said.
If tests turn out positive, the students will not be allowed to enroll in any subject that would endanger the lives of both the mother and child.
But Father Jerome Secillano of the Nuestra Senora Del Perpetuo Socorro Parish believes the policy infringes on students’ rights.
“What does it have to do with education? Is it meant to monitor a student’s performance?” he asked in an interview.
Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari, on the other hand said parents should be consulted on the matter.
“Personally I see this matter about pregnancy as a concern of parents. I think that they should ask also the opinion of parents regarding the imposition of this policy,” said the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education.
Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac for his part said, “So long as the students were duly informed of the policy before they enrolled, it would be a justifiable school rule,” he said. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)