Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Garner, Ana

Second Advisor

Chattopadhyay, Sumana

Third Advisor

Cabas-Mijares, Ayleen


A poignant photograph on the front page of a leading newspaper in the Philippines showing a woman cradling the lifeless body of her dead partner drew both local and international attention and outcry over the new president’s approach to the “war on drugs.” The purpose of this study was to determine the overarching story told by the photographs of the “war on drugs” in the Philippines. A textual analysis drawing upon both narrative and semiotic analysis was used to examine the settings, characters, plots, and symbolism in 143 photographs of “Killings” and “Protests” drawn from various news media agencies. Key findings of this study, shown by the photographs, shed light on the overarching story of the brutal “war on drugs” that is devastating the Filipino nation and has met a strongly protested disapproval by the community. In understanding the interaction between populism and the civil sphere, populism cannot afford a destructive intrusion. Instead, it can combine with substantive policies that work to integrate the community in a more expansive equitable way and inspire hope for democratic life.

Included in

Communication Commons