SWS: Most Filipinos believe number of drug addicts decreased in 2018

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 16) — Most Filipinos believe that the number of drug addicts in their area decreased in 2018, pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) said.

The SWS found that 66 percent of Filipino adults said the number of drug addicts last year was lower than that in 2017, while 14 percent said it has increased and 7 percent said it has remained the same.

The number of people who believe that there were fewer drug addicts last year is highest in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte's home region, with 83 percent saying there are few drug addicts, while 6 percent said otherwise and 4 percent said the number did not change.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of Filipinos in Visayas said it decreased, 11 percent said it increased and 6 percent said it remained the same.

Few people in Metro Manila said that the number of drug addicts decreased in their area, but a majority of 67 percent still hold this opinion, while only 54 percent said the same in Balance Luzon.

Most Filipinos still said that it is important for drug suspects to be captured alive, with 95 percent holding this opinion, while 87 percent said police should consider it important to capture illegal drug trade suspects alive.

The survey was conducted from December 16 to 19 through face-to-face interviews with 1,440 Filipinos aged 18 and above.

Malacañang said the survey is a "validation of the success of the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs."

"Our focus and drive remain unwavering in destroying the drug apparatus and putting behind bars the drug pushers, with strict observance to operational protocols, until the last day of the President's term of office in 2022," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed the survey result, saying that it reflects the effectivity of the government's anti-illegal drug campaign. 

"The high rating obtained proves that the continuing anti-illegal drugs campaign of the government is effective in convincing drug dependents to refrain from further using illegal drugs, and instrumental in reducing the total number of crimes nationwide thereby, creating a secure environment where people feel safe to live, work and do business," the PNP said in its statement Sunday. 

Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, however, had a different interpretation of the report. 

"Since libu-libo ang pinatay niyo na addicts without due process and without giving them the opportunity to be rehabilitated, 'di ba natural lang na mababawasan ang addicts?" Trillanes said in a statement Sunday.

[Translation: Since you are killing thousands of addicts without due process and without giving them the opportunity to be rehabilitated, isn't it natural that the number of addicts would be lessened?]

Latest government data show that 5,104 drug suspects have died in anti-drug operations, 167,135 have been arrested, and 316,494 drug users have graduated from recovery and wellness programs.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.