Duterte’s War on Drugs

The victims in the wave of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines are almost all young men, most of whom were gunned down in the slums of Manila. Whether they were dealers, users or people caught in the crossfire of President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, they often leave behind shattered families.

President Duterte’s campaign of extrajudicial killings with Metro Manila’s slums as the backdrop was the subject of our Oct. 23 talk with Tokyo-based photojournalist James Whitlow Delano. In particular, the talk at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. looked at how photography shapes our understanding of poverty, violence, and inequality, which in turn shapes the policies we use to address these challenges.

Delano is documenting the aftermath of these killings in his project, “Fruits of Impunity: Collateral Damage in President Duterte’s War on Drugs.” A selection of photos from the project, which was funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, were part of Delano’s co-winning entry in the 2018 inaugural Focus on the Story Awards.

[Read our Q&A with Delano]

After his presentation, Delano discussed the project and the socio-political-economic situation in the Philippines with Tanvi Nagpal, director of the International Development Program at SAIS, and moderator Shamila Chaudhary, who directs SAIS’ The Big Picture, a forum that explores the intersection of arts, culture and policy. Chaudhary is also the president of the Focus on the Story board of directors.

James Whitlow Delano discussing his work documenting the impact of Philippines President Duterte's war on drugs. © Joe Newman