A fearless, powerfully written on-the-ground account of a nation careening into a violent autocracy—told through harrowing stories of the Philippines’ state-sanctioned killings of its citizens—from a leading journalist of international renown
“My job is to go to places where people die. I pack my bags, talk to the survivors, write my stories, then go home to wait for the next catastrophe. I don’t wait very long.”
Journalist Patricia Evangelista came of age in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines. Three decades later, in the face of mounting inequality, the nation discovered the fragility of its democratic institutions under the regime of strongman Rodrigo Duterte.
Some People Need Killing is Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war and Duterte’s assault on the country’s struggling democracy. For six years, Evangelista had the distinctive beat of chronicling the killings carried out by police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs – a war that has led to the slaughter of thousands – immersing herself in the world of killers and survivors and capturing the atmosphere of fear created when an elected president decides that some lives are worth less than others.
The book takes its title from a vigilante, whose words seemed to reflect the psychological accommodation that most of the country had made: “I’m really not a bad guy,” he said. “I’m not all bad. Some people need killing.”
A profound act of witness and tour de force of literary journalism, Some People Need Killing is also a brilliant dissection of the grammar of violence and an important investigation of the human impulses to dominate and resist.
Patricia Evangelista is a trauma journalist and former investigative reporter for Philippine news company Rappler. Her reporting on armed conflict and the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan was awarded the Kate Webb Prize for exceptional journalism in dangerous conditions. She was a Headlands Artist in Residence, a recipient of the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, and a fellow of the John Logan Nonfiction Program, the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship, the De La Salle University Democracy Discourse Series, the New America Fellows Program, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Her work investigating President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has earned a number of local and international accolades. She lives in Manila.
Patricia Evangelista - photo credit Mark Nicdao