On The President’s Orders is a chilling, unflinching look at the war on drugs declared by President Duterte of the Philippines. The words of both the civilians and some of the police featured present a detailed, balanced and accurate picture of the situation.

The desperation in the voices of most of the civilians interviewed, living in the slums of Manila, soon becomes apparent. Their testimony is juxtaposed with the chilling and casual attitude towards death and killing that are displayed by the police officers interviewed. It is as if the simple involvement of illegal drugs in a case warrants excessive violence in their eyes. Most officers are following orders unblinkingly, with the large difference between dealers and users never being established.

The world explored in directors James Jones and Olivier Sarbil’s film is dark and riddled with corruption. There is a general disregard for human life, as the president’s orders filter down and are carried out via ‘death squads’, causing yet more tension within the slums. Captured firsthand are the overhanded tactics of Manila Police. The Manila Police have illegally and extra-judicially killed just over 5,000 people officially, with some opposing reports claiming a number closer to 20,000.

The recent prosecution of some police officers involved represents a positive step for the situation but, despite this mess being well-known worldwide, the deaths still mount.

Saturday, Apr 27, 8:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 3
Monday, Apr 29, 3:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sunday, May 5, 3:00 PM, Hart House Theatre