The weekend of 9-10 December at SEA Junction was devoted to the Philippines and its current conditions. After the public lecture “Quo Vadis Philippines” on 9 December at 5PM by historian and former chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Maria Serena I. Diokno. On 10 December at 5PM, photographer Raffy Lerma talked about the work and mission of the “Night Crawlers of Manila”. The Night Crawlers was an unofficial group of journalists, some working for media agencies, but mostly freelancers who cover the Philippine war on drugs. Since July 2016 they have done night shifts to document and report on extra-judiciary killings (EJKs) occurring in the streets of Metro Manila, the grief of their families, and the poverty and vulnerability they experienced.

Raffy Lerma’s presentation provided an illustration of the war on drugs and explain what is moving the Night Crawlers, stressing the role of photojournalism in providing evidences as well as giving a face to the victims and their lost lives beyond statistics. The ethical dilemma encountered and the emotional toll is taking on the group members were also discussed.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, then reflected on the war on drugs and its disregard of human lives and rights. Lessons from similar policies in Thailand and other countries also be shared to give food for thought.

Photos of the event by: Rosalia Scoirtino and Kanyawee Seedabut