Thousands of people in the Philippines perished when President Rodrigo Duterte ordered state forces to strengthen its “war on drugs.” Alyx Ayn Arumpac's masterpiece ‘Aswang’ delves deeper into this problem.

/ 22 December 2020

Since taking office on June 30, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has intensified the Philippines’ war against drugs campaign that has led to the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos, most of them urban slum dwellers.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 2,555 of the killings have been attributed to extra judicial killings performed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Alyx Ayn Arumpac’s masterpiece ‘Aswang’ delves deeper into this problem. The documentary lets its viewers experience anguish and despair as it pictures the government’s injustices amid its fight against illicit drugs.

The documentary has so far bagged four major awards at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards 2020 (FAMAS 2020) –Best Picture, Best Documentary, Best Cinematography (by Alyx Ayn Arumpac and Tanya Haurylchyk), and Best Editing (Fatima Bianchi and Anne Fabini).

“With so many excellent films nominated, I recognize that giving the award to a film like Aswang is a statement in itself from FAMAS and the Philippine film community, a firm stand on everything that is happening in our country,” said Arumpac in a Facebook post.

“So we humbly offer this award to every single Filipino who has suffered under this regime of impunity. No one deserves to be murdered in the streets, tortured, kidnapped and held in secret prison cells. No mothers should be separated forcefully from their babies. No one should be arrested and harassed for speaking out and telling the truth. No child should ever have to grow up fearing the police and thinking violence is normal. We all deserve to live our lives in freedom and dignity.” she wrote.

In 2019, ‘Aswang’ won the International Film Critics’ FIPRESCI award in Amsterdam, it has also bagged the Grand Prize at the 2020 Montreal International Documentary Festival in the International Feature Competition.

Last July, the documentary was streamed for free for a limited time on the film’s official website and Facebook page.