A photo taken from the Philippines has made it to the front page of The New York Times for August 3. Taken by Reuters photojournalist Czar Dancel, the image shows a woman named Jennilyn Olayres weeping over the body of her husband, Michael Siaron, who was killed in Manila last July.
Near his dead body was a piece of cardboard with the words “Pusher ako, huwag tularan” (“I’m a pusher. Don’t be like me.”) written on it, which means he was subjected to summary execution by a still-unidentified vigilante group. An article titled “Body count rises as Philippine president wages War on Drugs” (written by Jason Gutierrez) accompanies the harrowing photo.
According to a tally by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 465 suspected criminals have been killed in a similar manner since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last June 30. Duterte, a former mayor of Davao City, has made fighting drugs and crimes the foundation of his presidential campaign.
Interestingly, the photo used published in the front page of the NYT was first published in the PDI. In his first State of the Nation Address last week, Duterte slammed the said newspaper for seemingly portraying the scene similar to Michaelangelo’s sculpture “Pieta,” which shows the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus Christ after He died on the cross. “Nagda-dramahan lang tayo dito,” the President said.
Given his landslide victory and subsequent sky-high approval ratings, it is obvious that the vast majority of Filipinos are fine with his iron-fist approach to fighting illegal drugs. It remains to be seen if that support will continue to hold given the flak the conduct of the War on Drugs has received from local critics and the international community.
Apart from NYT, Duterte’s vigorous war on drugs has already been reported in other international media outlets including The Australian, CNN, Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Russia Today, BBC, The Guardian, Singapore’s The Straits Times, and South China Morning Post.