On The President's Orders Poster

On the President’s Orders

1h 12m
Directed By: ,
Screenplay By:

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In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a “war on drugs” in the Philippines, launching a wave of violence and murder targeting thousands of suspected drug dealers and users. With unprecedented, intimate access both to police officials implicated in the killings and the families destroyed as the result of Duterte’s deadly campaign, On the President’s Orders is a shocking and revelatory investigation into the extrajudicial murders that continue to this day. Entering a murky world of crime, drugs and politics, the filmmakers have managed to capture the clear trajectory of what depths those who wield excessive power can reach, when attacking those who have the very least.

Top Billed Cast


LANGUAGE : English and Filipino. (With English Subtitles)


PRODUCER : James Jones, Dan Edge
EDITOR : Michael Harte
SOUND : Uno Helmersson

Festivals Participated / Recognitions

Nominated for an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Current Affairs documentary

Winner of the Royal Television Society Award For Photography in Documentary / Factual & Non Drama

“Every bit of the photography is beautifully and brilliantly constructed. The framing and lighting was extraordinary giving a cinematic effect that completely drew the viewer into a haunting, sinister and menacing world. It is a bold, brave and masterful use of the lens.”

Finalist in the Rory Peck Sony Impact Award

“Alerting the world to Duterte’s human rights abuses, this is a visually amazing documentary, shot with tension and urgency, that plunges the viewer into the very heart of Manila’s murderous war against drugs.”

Shortlisted for a Grierson Award for Best Current Affairs Documentary

Long-listed for best feature documentary at One World Media Awards

Winner of Best Documentary Cinematography at the Canadian Cinematography Awards

Winner of Best Documentary Cinematography at the European Cinematography Awards

Winner of Best Documentary Cinematography at the New York Cinematography Awards

Winner of the Special Prize at Human Doc Film Festival

Winner of the Best UK feature at the Raindance Film Festival

Nominated for the F:ACT Award at the CPH-DOX International Film Festival

Related Articles:

‘On the President’s Orders’ Review: Police Unleashed on the Philippines – The New York Times
The thesis of “On the President’s Orders” isn’t terribly original, but in a needlessly roundabout way, it makes its case that these killings are not the work of isolated individuals, but the product of a top-down culture that stems from Duterte’s assent.
Review: ‘On the President’s Orders’ zeroes in on the Philippines’ deadly war on drugs – Los Angeles Times
Sarbil, as cinematographer, captures the footage with attention to graceful framing and evocative light sources for an ethereal finish. To supplement the requisite interviews with vocal players in the government sanctioned slaughtering of civilians, indelible imagery — including a father being shot point blank or a corpse being washed at the morgue — supplies the poignancy necessary to appreciate the gravity of the nightmare on a human level.
On The President’s Orders – Official Website
Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings.
‘On the President’s Orders’: Film Review – The Hollywood Reporter
Whatever the findings of the International Criminal Court, a respected global justice institution that Duterte has repeatedly discouraged and attempted to delegitimize, the president faces a record of alleged human rights abuses that will tarnish his legacy well into the future.