MANILA, Philippines (AP) — An independent poll released Thursday showed that more than three-quarters of Filipinos are satisfied with President Rodrigo Duterte, even though he is under fire internationally for his deadly crackdown on suspected drug dealers and users.
The survey, conducted by Social Weather Stations from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 and published Thursday, shows 76 percent of 1,200 adults polled nationwide were satisfied with Duterte's performance, 11 percent were dissatisfied, and 13 percent were undecided. There was a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
The poll, which described Duterte's net rating as "very good," comes nearly three months after he took office and with his anti-drug crackdown, which has left more than 3,600 suspected drug dealers and pushers dead, raising alarms at the United Nations, the EU, the U.S. and human rights watchdogs.
The brash-speaking leader has been hypersensitive to such criticism, and the latest survey was carried out just before he raised his rhetoric on Sept. 30, comparing his anti-drug campaign to Hitler and the Holocaust and saying he would be "happy to slaughter" an estimated 3 million Filipino addicts — a remark he has since apologized for.
He has unleashed a number of expletive-laced tirades against his critics, telling President Barack Obama "you can go to hell," and saying he may eventually decide to "break up with America." He has also lashed out at the European Union and the U.N.
In his latest remarks Thursday, Duterte dared Obama and the EU to withdraw their financial assistance from the Philippines over their criticisms of his bloody crackdown, but warned of an unspecified backlash. There has been no known official declaration by the U.S. or EU of a threat to withdraw assistance from the Philippines.
"Go away, bring your money to somewhere else, we will survive as a nation," Duterte said in a speech in southern Butuan city. "How do you look at us? Mendicants?"
"But, let's see, there is always a day for reckoning. Not all the times are yours," he said.
The crackdown has reduced the crime rate in Manila by half, Duterte said, adding he did not expect Obama or the EU to understand "the pain we are suffering" from the drug menace.
The survey showed respondents in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, an insurgency-ridden region where Duterte is from, gave him the highest rating, with 88 percent satisfied and just 4 percent not satisfied.
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this story.