Youth stage musical against Duterte's deadly drugs war

Ronn Bautista and Neil Jerome Morales, Reuters

Posted at Apr 02 2017 07:39 PM

Theater artists perform a "La Pieta" scene during a short musical about the killings under the Philippine government's anti-drug campaign, in Pandacan. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA -- A youth theater club staged a musical at a Manila park on Sunday, challenging President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

The 20-minute show features a casket salesman whose funeral parlor is doing brisk business as corpses pile up.

But the salesman and his friends end up as statistics, falling to vigilante-style killings that have gripped the nation and alarmed the international community.

"The play talks about the problem in the community with the war on drugs and the irony of it, that a few earn money amid this war and all the killings," artistic director Jessie Villabrille told Reuters.

Thousands of suspected drug addicts and dealers have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30, some in police operations but many others in mysterious circumstances.

The authorities vehemently deny wrongdoing and blame vigilantes and drug gangs for the killings.

Criticism of the war on drugs does not sit with Duterte or his supporters. The brash leader chastised the United Nations and former US president Barack Obama numerous times or criticizing his anti-drugs program.

Duterte won the presidency by a wide margin on the promise of wiping out drugs and criminality.

The theater group plans to take the musical to schools and stage a longer version next month.