Drug war on NY Times: ‘We no longer have fear in killing people’
“We no longer have any fear, nor does it bother our conscience every time we kill these people.”
This was what a confessed vigilante said in the New York Times’ latest video documentary, which circled on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
The 15-minute video, titled “When a President Says ‘I’ll Kill You,’” follows the account of Inquirer photojournalist Raffy Lerma as he documented the drug-related deaths in the streets of Manila and visited the victims’ wake during the night shift.
In the video, a self-described hitman said President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark encouraging the police and military men to hunt drug suspects appeared to him as a sign that vigilantes like him could easily get away with their kills.
“We kill people who are a menace to society. As the cliché goes, ‘It’s up to the heavens whatever happens to us.’ But we do believe we are taking out the really bad people. We no longer have any fear, nor does it bother our conscience every time we kill these people,” the vigilante said.
“I think, what I gather from what he’s been saying is that, should we get caught, we would be freed eventually,” he added.
Lerma is best known for his “Pieta-like” photograph of a dead drug suspect being cradled by his partner like Michaelangelo’s famous depiction of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of Jesus Christ.
“There’s injustice going on around the country and you begin to feel now that maybe we’re just starting… I am for the drug war. I want drugs to stop, but I’m not for the killing,” Lerma said in the documentary.
“We try to document but we’re also trying to look for strong pictures—pictures that not only inform but try to move people,” he added.
The release of the documentary follows the publication of a New York Times news feature last week titled “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” and an editorial titled “Accountability for Duterte.”
Malacañang has denounced the series of NYT pieces critical of Duterte as a “very obvious demolition work.” In a statement, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said: “The newspaper tries to stir global outrage in a nation that welcomes its newfound peace and order.”
Over 7,000 deaths have been linked to the war on drugs since Duterte assumed power. JE
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