In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte initiated a ‘war on drugs’ (tokhang) in 2016 to address the country’s drug problem. Widely criticized as a violation of human rights and as a war against the poor, tokhang led to thousands of violent drug-related killings, leaving behind orphaned children and families with intense psychological trauma, deepening poverty and social stigma. This research aims to understand how orphaned adolescents living in urban poor communities in Metro Manila make sense of their experiences of tokhang, their current life situation, and their imagined futures. As a feminist action research, it utilized memory work as a framework and method and games and critical arts inquiry as a form of intervention. This paper argues that that the ‘war on drugs’ has placed thousands of children and youth in poor communities in Metro Manila into a vulnerable state of being and deep insecurity. Orphaned youth’s memories of tokhang are characterized by loss and injustice and their narratives of the present reveal continuing sadness and insecurity; and the future, a sense of hope, healing and a desire to claim justice.
Authors: Luz Maria Martinez, Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo, Pacita Dechavez Fortin, Merlie B. Mendoza, Nico A. Canoy, Mara Patricia Yusingco, Michaela Grace L. Aquino
Topics: Peace and Security