Carlo Gabuco | Less Than Human

Country of origin: Philippines
Project location: Philippines
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2017

"You cannot wage a war without killing," said President Rodrigo Duterte. “In the first place, I’d like to be frank with you: are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?” 

BL was 14 when police killed his brother on the railway tracks. He ran into the crime scene screaming, and was threatened with a gun if he didn’t step away. Love-love was 11 when she saw her father shot. She now lives with an aunt, her six siblings scattered among relatives. Kong Kong was 15 when he threw himself over his dying father. He is now in hiding, the bullet wound in his leg healing. Xylar was four when his father was found executed on a bridge with his face wrapped in tape. He does not understand why his father doesn’t come home. Christine was 12 when a cop shot her father in the back of his head. She was holding him just before a cop threw her against a wall. 

“If I didn’t let go,” she says, “he might still be alive.” 

Duterte has called addicts and dealers and users the dregs of society. He encouraged both vigilantes and the militia to gun down suspects. To date 3,904 have been killed by police. There are no final numbers of all the dead – some reports put the total at 13,000. 

“Less Than Human” is the story of those who pay the price – told through the eyes of children who have been told their parents are not people.