The Philippine Drug War

  • Tokhang: The Philippine Drug War
  • Rough dog press 2021

The Philippine Drugwar

Tokhang is a word in the Philippine Bisaya meaning “to approach and talk”. It also has become synonymous with the Duterte administration’s deadly war against drugs.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines built his election campaign to be hard against drug pusher and addicts.
Shortly after assuming power, President Duterte launched the the Philippine drug war also called Tokhang, urging members of the public to kill criminals and drug addicts. So far under Duterte’s rule more than 12,000 suspected drug users and dealers, mostly from poor families, have been killed, including 54 children in the first year.

"“Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential
palace, I will do just what I did as mayor.
You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you, I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”"

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
"It all started with a couple of news articles where I had been “night crawling”, following the SOCO-Scene of the Crime Operatives and police, photographing the current affairs and murders that were a direct result of President Duterte’s policy.
There was something so vicious and cynical in this so called drug war. Murders and torture had not only been approved by the highest elected person in the government of the Philippines, but one could also actually hear the president himself bragging about it on his press conferences."

"Looking at the vast murder statistics, clearly this so called “war against drugs” was also a raging war against the poorest of the Philippines. There were no wealthy drug pins or cartel members shot during the killing sprees at night. Instead, one would only find a malnourished rickshaw driver bleeding out on the side walk and his family members trying to hide their tears from from the cold optics of the TV channels. They did not only lose a beloved family member and provider but were also left to pay for the coffin…"

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