MANILA, PHILIPPINES — When a Filipino theater group performs a musical about the thousands killed under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, it’s definitely a sign of the times.
Philippine National Police statistics show that more than 8,700 suspected drug addicts and dealers have been killed by PNP and vigilantes, since President Duterte carried out an unprecedented narcotics crackdown beginning in July 2016.
This musical’s producers say the production is a form of protest against the killings, and a condemnation of those who managed to benefit from the war on drugs.
“The whole play actually talks about the problem in the community with the war on drugs, and the irony of it, na parang, kung kalian nagkakaroon ng ganitong giyera, maraming namamatay, iilan sa atin nakaka experience ng paginhawa, nagkakaroon sila ng pera, anggiyera minsan arang nangangahulugan ng pera minsan sa iilan,” said Jessie Villabrille, artistic director of the Balagtas Theatre Group.
Teatro Balagtas actors believe, as artists, it is their role to address community issues, and to point out what they believe is right from what is wrong.
“Ang role talaga ng community theatre is to relay the community’s issues,” said actress Margaret Lopez. “Most especially wala kaming, to be honest wala kaming gusting tapakan, pero kailangan din naming manindigan yung tama sa mali.”
A full version of the play is expected in May, and the theater group plans to take the musical to different schools in the Philippines.