By The Nightcrawlers*

THOUSANDS have been killed in the government’s brutal crusade against drugs. They call it a war. It is, instead, a violent campaign against the poorest and most vulnerable.

Many stories have been published. Thousands of images have been captured. We are told we are yellow and biased, presstitutes and destabilizers, the paid operatives of drug lords and foreign imperialists.

Our work has been reduced into a supposed product of staging and manipulation.

The President himself has publicly called our reports fake news. News groups have been targeted. We have been insulted, harassed, and threatened with rape and death on and offline.

We will continue reporting. We will stay on in the field with the bodies and the witnesses.

For us, it’s not about political color. We believe in human rights, and the humanity of every citizen, regardless of class or background. We strive for balance and seek accountability.

We are biased for facts, and we hope to honor the tradition of a free and fearless press. — PCIJ, May 2018

This story and other “Voices from the Frontlines” dispatches form part of the state of press freedom report, “Speak Truth to Power, Keep Power in Check”, produced by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and Philippine Press Institute, to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2018.

* “The Nightcrawlers” is an informal group of photojournalists working with various Philippine and foreign media agencies who prowl the streets of Metro Manila night after night to document drug war killings. The group members have produced the most riveting images of the war on drugs.

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