SWS: 60% favor death penalty for drug–fueled crimes

MANILA, Philippines -  Six in 10 Filipinos are in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes related to illegal drugs, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The poll, conducted from March 25 to 28, showed that 61 percent of Filipinos approved and 23 percent disapproved of the capital punishment, yielding a net approval score of +38, classified as “good.”

Sixteen percent of the respondents nationwide were undecided on the matter.

Support for the restoration of the death penalty was highest in Metro Manila at “very good” +58 (75 percent approve, 17 percent disapprove).

It was followed by balance Luzon at +39 (63 percent approve, 24 percent disapprove); Mindanao at +35 (53 percent approve, 17 percent disapprove) and Visayas at “moderate” +25 (56 percent approve, 31 percent disapprove).

Approval of the reimposition of the death penalty was highest in class ABC at +62 (76 percent approve, 14 percent disapprove), followed by class D or “masa” at +40 (62 percent approve, 22 percent disapprove) and class E at +21 (50 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove).

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The SWS asked 1,200 respondents, “Do you approve or disapprove of the proposed law that will reimpose the death penalty for heinous crimes pertaining to illegal drugs?”

The House of Representatives passed the Death Penalty bill last month despite strong opposition from various sectors, including religious groups.

From an initial list of 21 crimes including rape, treason and plunder, lawmakers decided to limit the death penalty to drug-related offenses.

The survey found 13 percent of Filipinos who claimed to have “extensive knowledge” and 35 percent have “partial knowledge” about the proposed restoration of the death penalty.

Four in 10 Filipinos or 43 percent said they have “only a little” knowledge about the proposal, while 10 percent have “almost nothing or nothing.”

The number of Filipinos who have “extensive knowledge or partial but sufficient knowledge” about the proposal was highest in class ABC at 65 percent, followed by class D at 49 percent and class E at 35 percent.

The proportion of those with either “only a little knowledge or almost no knowledge at all” was highest in class E at 65 percent, followed by class D at 51 percent and class ABC at 35 percent.

Approval of the proposed return of the death penalty was higher among those who are more knowledgeable about it.

The number of respondents who have “extensive knowledge” about the death penalty was at +59 (78 percent approve, 19 percent disapprove), followed by those with “partial but sufficient knowledge” at +51 (70 percent approve, 18 percent disapprove).

Those with “only a little knowledge,” 54 percent approve and 25 percent disapprove of the proposal for a net approval rating of +30.

Those with “almost no knowledge” were at neutral net zero (33 percent approve, 34 percent disapprove, correctly rounded).

Pro, anti-death penalty

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, a death penalty advocate for drug-related crimes, welcomed the results of the SWS survey.

Sotto said he believed that Filipinos are supportive of the death penalty for heinous crimes.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is opposed to the death penalty, was unaffected by the results of the poll.

She said the public approval of the death penalty stems from the failure of the country’s law enforcement and public health systems to address the drug problem and bring to justice drug traffickers based on the rule of law.

“This inspires me more to campaign against the reimposition of the death penalty and to push for policies that will reform our judicial system,” Hontiveros said. – With Paolo Romero