In 2016, outsider candidate Rodrigo Duterte upset the political establishment in the Philippines by winning the presidency and promising vengeance and violence. Within hours of taking office, bodies piled up in the streets. Rappler, the country’s top online news site, investigated the murders and revealed a government-sanctioned drug war targeting poor addicts instead of lucrative dealers. In an attempt to suppress independent reporting, Duterte unleashed a powerful disinformation campaign that spread like wildfire throughout social media.
Filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz follows key players from two sides of an increasingly dangerous war between press and government. Representing the journalists is fearless Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who, despite arrests and harassment, continues to publish articles holding a lawless regime accountable. On the other side, influencers such as popstar-turned-government secretary Mocha Uson start incendiary social media movements and general Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa spearheads a public execution campaign against addicts. As each side digs in, we become witness to an epic and ongoing fight for the integrity of human life and truth itself – a conflict that extends beyond the Philippines into our own divisive backyard.