The war on drugs issue in the Philippines is so different. It is a strong campaign that has been underway since the newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte won the election in the Philippines.
As early as eight months after President Rodrigo Duterte won there were total of 8,000+ dead people who were killed during the war on drugs. Since then, I have witnessed the killings almost every night in different ways. There are some who are killed but their face is covered by packaging tape, their hands are tied and they are just dumped in the streets with a cardboard sign saying “Pusher, wag tularan”, which means “I’m a drug pusher – don’t be like me”. The others are killed by police operations, and every time they are asked why they need to kill their targets they just said “they fought back”.
It’s really hard to understand how they run the system and why it is so many are killed. There are lots of stories and it’s so different until you know the story of the family. Lot of families urged they kill their loved ones like an animal, and they had no gun at all, so it is hard to accept because the police always say they fought back – that’s why they killed them.
The effect of the war on drugs is disturbing; society has become used to seeing dead human beings lying on the street. Almost every day there is a family who have lost their loved ones. Even if they surrender there is a chance that they might also be killed, even if you are trying to change you can possibly be a target. Nobody knows and the real victims here are the orphaned – they always remember what they saw.
For me whatever kind of person someone is, they have the freedom to live. No one can judge to kill, but to help them to reach their hope. A person who is suffering from drug addiction has a mental problem and needs assistance to rehabilitate. Everyone has their environment, their nature that comes to life, and these people might become addicted to drugs because of their own problems that can affect their system.
Since then I started documenting the war on drugs in my motherland, and I believe by the use of my photographs, which can tell the reality that Filipinos need to face, I will not stop documenting these issues until they realise that they need to stop the killings and instead help people for the problem to improve.
Dante Dennis V. Diosina Jr is a freelance photographer based in the Philippines. Dante has been working at a local newspaper and several news agencies. He also has ongoing documentary projects focusing on armed conflict, health issues, indigenous peoples, human rights issues and natural disasters.
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