There is just no way to downplay the fact that the issue of the Philippine government’s violent and deadly war on drugs has been a topic that has a tendency to sour international opinion of the country, though under the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, the response to such raised eyebrows has been either to ignore them or return criticism in kind. Still, there are supporters of the drug campaign trying to give it a positive explanation. Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza paints a portrait of the Philippine drug war in “Amo”, a Filipino series on Netflix. Unfortunately, there has been opposition.
CNN Philippines reports that, following the launch of the series “Amo” by Brillante Mendoza on Netflix in Monday April 9, a number of protesters from local human rights advocacy groups have started demanding Tuesday that the show be removed from streaming. Their justification for not allowing “Amo” to be watched is that the series makes to glorify the actions of the police under President Duterte’s directive. A petition signed by 13 human rights groups states, “We call on Netflix to stop giving an audience to a show that aims to justify extrajudicial killings. We call on Netflix to cancel Amo.”
“Amo”, directed by Cannes Film Festival winner Mendoza, follows high school student and small-time drug pusher Joseph. While his peddling narcotics is simply to make ends meet and nothing more, he finds himself caught in the crossfire between big-time drug operators and the PNP during the bloody War on Drugs.
Spokespersons from groups such as the Akbayan Youth, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and DAKILA, all accused Mendoza of presenting a biased picture favoring the extreme measures mandated by President Duterte against drugs, and that Netflix is making a mistake of providing an audience to a show twisting grim reality.
This comes in the wake of an interview with Mendoza before the release of “Amo” on Netflix, claiming that the brutal prosecution against the narcotics trade is necessary, and that other countries with drug problems can benefit from the Philippines’ example. To this, protesters decry the director as ignorant of the human rights abuses and trauma felt by the families of slain victims, which their statistic records purport to be over 13,000 compared to the government’s official tally of 4,075 casualties. They warn Netflix that they will hold it complicit with Duterte’s agenda if it does not take down “Amo”.
Mendoza however is staying the course of his series. On his Twitter page he posted, “At the end of the day, it is not about being controversial, but simply being truthful about the issues that surround us. We have to acknowledge that there are problems going on and face reality.”
Photo courtesy of TheWebMagazine