President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines has exacted an enormous toll in human lives and suffering. This essay looks into one of the earliest and most graphic responses to this war: the work of photojournalists and the plurality of responses to their images. How does photojournalism become a kind of witnessing linked to the work of mourning? How are trauma and grieving braided together in the experience of photographers covering war? What is the role of the camera, and what are the ambivalent effects of the technical and aesthetic imaging of the dead and their survivors? How has the drug war, by instilling a biopolitics of fear, transformed the latter’s ways of seeing and being? What becomes of justice amid images of injustice? For example, how do returning spirits of the dead that appear in dreams of their families stimulate phantasms of revenge? How is revenge imagined as a form of justice that reinforces rather than detracts from the brutal logic of the drug war?

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