By The Nightcrawlers*
THOUSANDS have been killed in this government’s so-called “war” on drugs. At the same time, thousands of words and images have been written and photographed on this war.
For this work, we journalists have been called many names — from dilawan to presstitutes, even destabilizers of the country, and allegedly hired by drug lords for simply reporting on these crimes.
Supporters of this Drug War, some government officials included, have tried to discredit and accuse us of hiring actors, staging crime scenes, and manipulating photos.
The President himself has publicly called many of our work as “fake news,” even specifically targeted their news groups.
Amid all these, we have received insults, threats, and harrassment — on and offline.
And yet, we continue the work. Still, we journalists write stories, and take photographs of this brutal war.
For us, it’s not about political colors. For us, it’s about looking beyond the Death Toll, and humanizing the victims.
It is about uplifting human rights, and seeking accountability. It’s about reporting every side of the story, even when many choose to believe just one. — PCIJ, May 2018
This story and other “Voices from the Frontlines” dispatches form part of the state of press freedom report, “Speak Truth to Power, Keep Power in Check”, produced by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and Philippine Press Institute, to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2018.
* “The Nightcrawlers” is an informal group of photojournalists working with various Philippine and foreign media agencies who prowl the streets of Metro Manila night after night to document drug war killings. The group members have produced the most riveting images of the war on drugs.