Netflix urged to cancel Brillante Mendoza's PH drug war series

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"Amo," which premiered worldwide on Netflix on Monday, is set against the backdrop of the government's drug war.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 10) — Human rights advocates demanded for Netflix to stop streaming "Amo," a TV series on the Philippines' controversial war on drugs directed by Brillante Mendoza.

The groups on Tuesday said, by streaming the action TV series, Netflix is glorifying the Duterte administration's drug war.

"We call on Netflix to stop giving an audience to a show that aims to justify extrajudicial killings. We call on Netflix to cancel Amo," it said in a statement.

The 13 signatories of the petition include groups such as Akbayan Youth, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and DAKILA organization.

"Amo," which premiered worldwide on Netflix on Monday, is set against the backdrop of the government's drug war. It tells the story of Joseph, a high school student and small-time "shabu" peddler who eventually finds himself entangled in the world of drugs.

A member of Akbayan Youth said Netlfix is giving the Cannes award-winning director a platform for his "skewed" view of the drug war.

Mendoza was earlier quoted in a report where he said drug war is necessary for the Philippines and other countries afflicted with drug problem.

"It's insensitive of Mendoza to dismiss the human rights violations, the lives lost, the trauma the families have to deal with, as simply necessary. Nothing would justify the killings that have been happening," Akbayan Youth's Justine Balane told CNN Philippines on Tuesday.

The government reported 4,075 personalities were killed in anti-drug operations since the start of the government's campaign in July 2016. But local and international human rights groups peg the drug war figures to be closer to more than 13,000 killings.

"Thousands of Filipinos have already lost loved ones to this murderous campaign. Airing 'Amo' will only bastardize their grief," the human rights advocates said.

Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine earlier said the series "paints a ludicrous veneer of civility and lawfulness over what is nothing less than a murderous targeting of the poor."

Aside from the petition of the human rights groups, a change.org petition to cancel the show is gaining attention.

Luzviminda Siapo, mother of alleged extrajudicial victim 19-year-old Raymart Siapo, created the petition on April 8. It has received 5,700 online signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

"I would like to ask you to cancel this show. War on drugs is not the solution. For me, killing is not right. Everyone deserves a chance to live and change his life," she wrote.

Siapo said her handicapped son was accused of selling marijuana. On March 29, he was abducted by men in ski masks, was reportedly asked to run, then shot twice in the head.

Balane said if Netflix does not cancel the show, human rights groups are looking into writing a formal petition.

"We hope Netflix reflects about the implication of screening this show. As the killings continue, they just gave a platform to a murderous dictator... If Netflix won't cancel 'Amo,' we might send a formal letter to Netflix, demanding accountability for being complicit in spreading Duterte's propaganda," he said.

Hours after "Amo" was made available on Netflix, Mendoza said Filipinos have to look beyond what the pictures show.

"At the end of the day, it is not about being controversial, but simply being truthful about the issues that surround us. We have to acknowledge that there are problems going on and face reality," he posted on his Twitter.

CNN Philippines has reached out to Mendoza's camp for further comment.