Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Some People Need Killing: a Memoir of Murder in My Country - by Patricia Evangelista.- 2023 - 429 Pages

 Some People Need Killing: a Memoir of Murder in My Country - by Patricia Evangelista.- 2023 - 429 Pages

"TIME’S #1 NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR • A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A “riveting” (The Atlantic) account of the Philippines’ state-sanctioned killings of its citizens under President Rodrigo Duterte, hailed as “a journalistic masterpiece” (The New Yorker)


“Tragic, elegant, vital . . . Evangelista risked her life to tell this story.”—Tara Westover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Educated



Rodrigo Duterte 

Born: March 28, 1945 (age 79)

Presidential term: June 30, 2016 – June 30, 2022

 President of the Philippines (2016–2022), Mayor of Davao City (2013–2016), Vice-Mayor of Davao City (2010–2013), Mayor of Davao City (2001–2010), 

Education: San Beda College of Law (1968–1972), Lyceum of the Philippines University (1968), Cor Jesu College, Inc., Ateneo de Davao University Grade School, Laboon Elementary 

Some People Need Killing: a Memoir of Murder in My Country - by Patricia Evangelista.- 2023 - is a masterpiece on numerous levels.  As reportage of the war on drugs of Rodrigo Duterte (an estimated 20,000 people died in extrajudicial killings), an account of the impact of working as a reporter on the drug war on a relatively highly educated young woman, a brilliant account of the use of Orwellian "Double Speak", a presentation of life among the poorest in the Philippines and a history lesson weaved into the structure of the book.

(A good summary of the war on drugs can be found at

I wish or feel a need to convey my own history with the Philippines.

I am an American,  I grew up in Florida. In 2004 I moved permanently to Quezon City, an area that figures very much in the book. I married a wonderful Filipino lady and became the defacto father of her three daughters.  I sent them to college, the youngest at the same university as Patricia Evangelista.

We lived in a gated walled condo community. Nobody gets in without being screened  by armed guards,The residents are doctors, lawyers, business owners and individuals with substantial private worth.  Our barangay has  numerous similar condo communities and also very impoverished areas,  Nearby are huge beautiful malls with four Starbucks and outlets where you can select your $10,000 dollar purse. You pass children playing in mud puddles and Scary to us looking slums which are far from the ones where the drug killings were focused.

When Roberto Duterte  began his successful campaign for president he stated exactly what his top priority would be, to eliminate drug usage in the Philippines. He stated he would do what ever was necessary to achieve this goal.  He said his objective was to protect Filipino children from drug dealers.  

In our community he had significant support. People wanted a strong leader. Unlike other past presidents he disclosed all his assets and Evangelista makes no suggestions of personal financial corruption. Unlike American politicians in their seventies when asked about his health he said "you name a disease and I probably have it". When then President Donald Trump visited the country he staged an elaborate event and gave a speech praising trump to the sky. After that the Philippines got massive American aid in the form of weapons.

My American family and friends thought the drug killings were everywhere and asked if I was in danger.  I told them if not for TV news we would not even know about the killings.  People reported Street crime was way down.  Once a presentation was given in our community meeting house on the war in drugs in our barangay.  An exact account of those killed was given. As the only foreigner there they asked me  my thoughts. I told them I grew up where there is a significant drug problem but here in our community I see only family focused clean living people and I was shocked by Reports of  millions of drug users,   Most were on a version of meth amphetamines.  The government made no distinctions between a casual user of marijuana and a daily user of heroin. All were considered dangerous to society.

Evangelista goes into personal detail on police who killed for bounty money or because they believed it was the right thing for the country as well as on drug dealers.

From Fully Booked- An excellent source for the book, in several Manila malls

"fearless, powerfully written on-the-ground account of a nation careening into violent autocracy—told through harrowing stories of the Philippines’ state-sanctioned killings of its citizens—from a journalist of international renown

“Tragic, elegant, vital . . . Evangelista risked her life to tell this story.”—Tara Westover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Educated

“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. For six years, Evangelista chronicled 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 a 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 the Philippine news company Rappler. Her reporting on armed conflict and disaster was awarded the Kate Webb Prize for exceptional journalism in dangerous conditions. She was a Headlands Artist in Residence, a New America ASU Future Security Fellow, and a fellow of the Logan Nonfiction Program, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Her work has earned local and international acclaim. She lives in Manila

This is a wonderful book.  I am very grateful to Patricia Evangelista for her insights and hard work

Mel Ulm


Buried In Print said...

I'll definitely seek out a copy of this, on your recommendation. Of course it had crossed my mind previously, with all the criical acclaim, but sometimes a personal story makes all the difference. Thanks, Mel.

Mel u said...

Buried in Print- thanks for your comment and observation