President Rodrigo Duterte swept to power last June, promising to clean up the country by ‘slaughtering’ anyone involved in illegal drugs. In the last eight months a staggering 7,000 people have been killed. In hard-hitting documentary Deadliest Place To Deal, airing on Wednesday 22 March, for BBC Three Livvy Haydock travels to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to investigate the world’s bloodiest war on drugs.
Livvy embeds with the police on drug raids, as they break down doors and arrest pushers. The police claim dealers die in these kinds of operations, because they chose to shoot at police officers, rather than surrender.
But Livvy meets relatives of the dead, drug dealers living in fear of their lives, and human rights investigators – who paint a very different picture. She uncovers evidence that the police are systematically executing unarmed suspects and then covering up their tracks by planting fake evidence.
Livvy discovers it’s not just the police involved in these deaths. Duterte has urged citizens to “go ahead and kill” those involved with drugs. Over 4,000 killings have been committed by masked vigilantes. Livvy tracks down one, who reveals that the police provide him with a list of targets to be eliminated.
Livvy learns that some are exploiting this climate of lawlessness and impunity to frame enemies, innocent of any crimes. One family reveals how their son, who had nothing to do with drugs, was executed in a vigilante-style killing, because a local man held a grudge against him.
With an 80 percent approval rating, Duterte has achieved a cult like status his country. Brash, blunt and foulmouthed (often called the Donald Trump of the Philippines), Duterte is the ultimate populist strongman leader. Livvy secures an interview the President’s sister and spokesperson, who is clear that his people are behind this brutal war on drugs. She says: “if you go into drugs, and you get killed it is because you broke the law.”
Pictured are Livvy Haydock and Christina Francisco, the mother of a suspected drug dealer killed by the police
Deadliest Place To Deal is available on BBC iPlayer from 10am on Wednesday 22 March 2017.