Few Americans have come face-to-face with the foot soldiers—both cops and encouraged vigilantes—of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on people who allegedly use and sell drugs.
But a new documentary from the investigative broadcaster PBS Frontline, On the President’s Orders, offers unprecedented access to the police officers and masked gunmen who are committing mass extrajudicial executions. You can view the trailer above.
The scale of Duterte’s drug war is huge: As of February 2019, over three thousand deaths have been linked to the organized bloodshed since 2016, according to the Philippines National Police. But the work of investigative journalists indicates that this is an underestimate.
Fully half of all homicides in parts of Manila, the capital—not the ten percent claimed by the police—were linked to drugs, according to an investigation by the Atlantic. It found 2,320 drug-linked homicides in the first year-and-a-half of the drug war—over a thousand more than the figure recorded by cops.
Much remains unknown about the Philippines drug war, especially to the American public. Filter has reported on-the-ground about the role of one prison in sparking the bloody assault on alleged drug users and sellers, and filmed interviews with courageous harm reductionists in Manila.
You can watch the full documentary on PBS Frontline’s website.