New Internationalist

Photo Gallery: visualizing Philippine democracy through UN SDGs

Web exclusive

For International Day of Democracy, Iris Gonzales offers snap shots of the country’s corruption, poverty and drug war.

IDD-Philippines-1-590.JPG [Related Image]
Manila, capital city of the Philippines. © Iris Gonzales

Today is the International Day of Democracy. UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 addresses democracy by calling for inclusive and participatory societies and institutions. It aims to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.’ The goal provides a measure for all countries to live up to. As part of our special feature, this photo gallery offers a glimpse into how the Philippines is measuring up to these goals. All photos by Iris Gonzales.


Traffic in Metro Manila has worsened in recent years, prompting novelist Dan Brown to depict it in his book Inferno as the Gates of Hell. It is estimated that the traffic costs $57 million a day in potential income. Corruption in road construction, which has caused poor quality road and highways and the delay in the bidding of new trains has been among the major reasons for the traffic.

© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales


The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has a population of more than 100 million. About a quarter of the population, however, live below the poverty threshold or around a dollar a day. Many take odd jobs to survive, selling food, vegetables or bootleg shoes and clothes on the streets. Many of these people are also homeless, sleeping in makeshift slums or even just in the streets. They are proof that economic growth – 6.9 per cent in the first half of the year from 5.5 per cent previously – has not been inclusive. The population continues to grow because the Catholic Church has always stood strong against contraceptives.

© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales

Drug war

President Duterte has declared an all out war against people in the drug trade. There are already at least 2,400 drug-related deaths according to police. In a community in Quezon City, one evening in September, a team of police killed an alleged drug pusher as part of its anti-drug campaign. The crowd in the slum community look on as the police take the lifeless body to the morgue for an autopsy.

© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales

Below, a 26-year-old alleged party drug dealer, selling drugs such as Ecstasy and Valium, is caught in the act during a buy-bust operation.

© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales
© Photos by Iris Gonzales

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Photo Gallery: visualizing Philippine democracy through UN SDGs

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Web exclusives

All Web exclusives

Popular tags

All tags

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.