More than 20,000 dead. This estimated death toll is the result of the two-year war on drugs in the Philippines. In 2016, Rodrigo Duterte became president of the south-east Asian republic. His campaign promise to fight drugs with any means won him the election: he threatened those connected to drug consumption and sales with the
death penalty, urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts, and allowed the police to act with brutality. Drug dealers and users have been murdered and a state of emergency was declared. The United Nations appealed in vain to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has announced
preliminary examinations into killings linked to Duterte’s war on drugs. But the war continues. This photo reportage hopes to illuminate both the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police.
Ezra Acayan (b.1993) is from the Philippines and is a former wire photographer from Reuters who began shooting professionally at the age of 17. His work has appeared in Time, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and in exhibits held in France, Sarajevo and Switzerland. Acayan was part of a team that won the Human Rights Press Awards, and was named Photographer of the Year at the International Photography Awards in 2017.