At the time of his election last year, President Rodrigo Duterte promised an end to the scourge of illegal drugs. "Forget the laws on human rights," he said at his final rally. "If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor [of Davao]. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better not go out because I'd kill you. I'll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there."
Every night, for over a year, the "night shift" has covered Duterte's deadly war on narcotics. Photographers, writers, filmmakers, attending crime scene after crime scene, have documented the corpses of alleged drug addicts and dealers found in gutters, alleys and under bridges. Some were shot, others were strangled or had their faces wrapped in plastic and wrists and ankles bound. Scrawled signs beside their corpses identified them as criminals.
For those in the field, it is a constant struggle between neutrality and compassion. Stories about the carnage are often written off as support for illegal drugs. Witnesses are terrified. Killers are called heroes. A stand in defence of human rights is often called an attack on the government.
There has been international condemnation and local resistance. More than one year into the war on drugs, the number of dead is no longer properly tallied but is believed to exceed 10,000. Photographers carry on following the story, not because they expect it will bring justice, but to remind the world of the many lives that will not be lived.
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand
Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
Hours of Operation -
All departments are open Monday-Friday and closed Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays
(including Photo Gallery)
10:00 am - 11:00 pm
11:00 am - 09:00pm
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
10:00 am - 7:00 pm (8 pm on days when we have events)