Mother of slain teen pleads to Netflix: Don’t air Brillante Mendoza’s drug war series
Brillante Mendoza’s “Amo”, which tackles the government’s drug war, is the Philippines’ first series on the streaming service Netflix.
While it’s a chance for the country to present a TV show on the world stage, the series has its critics, including those opposed to the present administration’s war on drugs, as it has allegedly taken thousands of lives without due process.
A mother who lost her son to the drug war, Luzviminda Siapo, has launched a petition on the website change.org, with the plea, “Netflix, Don’t Air Pro-Duterte Drug War Series.”
Last April, Raymart Siapo, a 19-year-old from Navotas, was abducted by 14 armed men on motorbikes just a day after a neighbor outed him to a barangay watchman for selling marijuana. Barangay and police officials would later say that he did not belong on any drug watchlist.
After being kidnapped, the teen was ordered to get off the motorbike he was forced onto and to run; he could not, due to his club feet. He was then made to sit and was shot in the head twice. Both his arms were broken.
Luzviminda rushed home from Kuwait where she was a domestic worker to bury her dead son.
Her petition reads, ”My son was one of the thousands of victims of President Duterte’s campaign against drugs. Now that AMO, a show about the war on drugs in the Philippines, is to be screened on Netflix, I am deeply concerned. According to its director Brillante Mendoza, the war on drugs is necessary in the Philippines and other countries having problems with illegal drugs.”
“I would like to ask you to cancel this show,” she further appealed. “War on drugs is not the solution. For me, killing is not right. Everyone deserves a chance to live and change his life.”
About 6,000 signatures of the 7,500 target have backed the petition, as of this writing.
Mendoza, who has expressed support for the drug crackdown, told AFP as early as 2016 that he didn’t know of any deaths in relation to the drug war. He also directed “Ma’ Rosa” which came out that same year, and features personal stories on the consequences of drug abuse in Philippine society.
The director has gained critical acclaim internationally for his films which explore social injustices in the Philippines. However, he has had to defend himself from comments that his work verges on poverty porn.
On criticism that “Amo” glorifies the drug war, Mendoza told BBC, “As a filmmaker stepping into this project, I want to tell truthful stories. I don’t care about politics. My work speaks for itself and people have to watch ‘Amo’ first. Just because I did a movie about illegal drugs, people are starting to accuse me of doing a propaganda film.”
He admitted, “There are a lot of killings [in Amo]. I will show both sides of the coin, not just the side of the government but also the side of the victims and the police. There is a lot of corruption among them and they are partly to blame.”
International non-profit Human Rights Watch lambasted the series for “whitewashing” the truth behind the drug war.
Deputy Asia director Phelim Kine told BBC that the government “will be well-pleased by the first two episodes of Amo” as it depicts “lawfulness” within the Philippine National Police.
“One of the most notably preposterous elements of the show is the significant number of suspected drug users and dealers actually surviving their encounters with the Philippine National Police, which is contrary to what has actually been occurring since the drug war began in 2016,” Kine noted. JB
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