THE deadly drug war waged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would be dramatized in the first Netflix series by award-winning director Brillante Mendoza, who says the internationally-condemned crackdown was “necessary.”
“Amo,” which premieres April 9, is about a high school student who starts selling crystal meth and ends up tangled in a nightmarish world populated by violent kingpins and corrupt officials.
It is the latest up-close examination of the dark side of Philippine life from Cannes-honored Mendoza, who is a Duterte supporter and has filmed two government advertisements promoting the president’s anti-drug campaign.
“Yes, it (the drug war) is necessary for the Philippines — not only for the Philippines but also other countries afflicted with the drug problem,” the 57-year-old Filipino told Agence France-Presse in a telephone interview.
“The reason why I did this is so people can see the other side of the coin,” he said — from the point of view of the “victims” as well as the “victimizers”.
Philippine police say they have killed roughly 4,000 drug suspects who fought back during arrest since Duterte launched the war nearly two years ago, promising to rid his nation of narcotics.
But rights groups allege the actual number is three times higher as they accuse authorities of slaying innocents.
“Amo”, Filipino slang for “master”, explores the drug problem as experienced by different characters, including a student and his policeman uncle.
Mendoza said he would not like the series “to look like propaganda for the government… It is not.”
Nonetheless, the filmmaker stressed he remained an “advocate” against illegal drugs.
Netflix did not respond to Agence France-Presse’s requests for comment.
Mendoza runs an independent production outfit that stands out for its choice of controversial topics.
He crafts stories of ordinary people in situations ranging from prostitution to corruption.
His “Kinatay” (Butchered), a gritty film that graphically depicts the rape, murder and dismemberment of a sex worker, won him the Cannes best director award in 2009. AFP