FACT CHECK News PHL Vote 2019

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Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara’s claim that Filipinos “feel safer” is inconsistent with nationwide survey results. This as 11 United Nations (UN) human rights experts call for a probe on “human rights violations” in the country.


In a June 10 interview with CNN Philippines, Angara was asked if he agreed with the statement of UN human rights experts three days prior that there has been a “sharp deterioration of human rights in the Philippines.”

The re-elected senator said:

“Perhaps, perhaps. But–you know there’s also–people have talked about that but they also talk about the increase in the well-being of people. People also say they feel safer, ‘di ba (right)? They feel safer going home at night. So that’s also a human right, ‘yung (their) well-being. So maybe it’s striking the right balance.”

Source: CNN Philippines, ‘The Source’ speaks to Sonny Angara, June 10, 2019, watch from 19:14 to 19:36


Latest survey results by an independent pollster do not support Angara’s claim.

More than half or 54% of Filipino adults across the country are fearful of walking the streets at night “because it is not safe,” according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey taken in December last year and released on Feb. 22.

This is eight percentage points above the 46% SWS had consistently recorded in its first, second, and third quarter polls last year.

The fourth quarter results are the highest since and comparable with the results of the December 2016 poll, which also yielded 54%, according to SWS.

The latest poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,440 Filipino adults nationwide and had a margin of error of ±2.6%. This means there is a high probability that the rate of Filipinos who are “afraid to walk in the street at night because it is not safe” falls between 51.4% and 56.6%.

“Public anxiety as to the safety of home and neighborhood streets” is one of the two modules on public safety that SWS polls take up regularly since 1986. The other one looks into the victimization of families by common crimes. Such polls are not commissioned and are run as a “public service,” according to SWS.

The 11 UN human rights experts, including Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings Agnes Callamard, called for an independent investigation on the country “given the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations.”

In a June 7 statement, they said:

“We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders. Very few independent and effective investigations have taken place, independent media and journalists are threatened, the law has been weaponised to undermine press freedom, and the independence of the judiciary is undermined.”

Meantime, a separate SWS survey conducted in December 2018 also showed that people felt unsafe, contrary to Angara’s statement.

This survey released on March 1 showed 42% of Filipino adults across the country were “very worried” while 36% were “somewhat worried” that they or someone they know will be a victim of extrajudicial killings.

This sentiment goes back to 2017, as shown in a Pulse Asia survey on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs conducted that September, its latest available iteration.

The question was framed in the context of the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos, who was shot repeatedly in a police anti-drug operation in Caloocan City in August that year. Respondents were asked if they were worried that they or someone they know “may meet the same fate” because of the war on drugs.

Forty-three percent of those who knew about delos Santos’ case said they were “very worried” while 34% said they were “somewhat worried.”



CNN Philippines, ‘The Source’ speaks to Sonny Angara, June 10, 2019

CNN Philippines, ‘Don’t dictate: Angara tells UN to respect PH sovereignty amid call for human rights probe, June 10, 2019

Social Weather Stations, Fourth Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by common crimes rise to 7.6%, Feb. 22, 2019

Social Weather Stations, First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by any of the common crimes at 6.6%, June 21, 2018

Social Weather Stations, Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Victimization by any crime falls to 5.3%, Sept. 20, 2018

Social Weather Stations, Third Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by common crime rise to 6.1%, Nov. 29, 2018, Surveys of public safety, Aug. 20, 2016

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN human rights experts call for independent probe into Philippines violations, June 7, 2019

Social Weather Stations, Fourth Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: 78% of Pinoys worry about becoming victims of ‘extrajudicial killings’ or EJK, March 1, 2019

Pulse Asia, Pulse Asia Research’s September 2017 Nationwide Survey on the Campaign Against Illegal Drugs, Oct. 16, 2017


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)