NEW TO VOD! In the Philippines thriller Watch List, Ben Rekhi exposes the squalid heart at the center of the Philippines anti-drug establishment. Operation Tokhang was created by populist politician Rodrigo Duterte, and on the surface, the program pressures documented drug users to “surrender” to rehab. But behind the specious righteousness, there are extra-judicial killings of drug users and dealers that raise suspicion.
Maria (Alessandra de Rossi) and Arturo (Jess Mendoza) are a loving yet financially struggling couple who have three children. After a devastating event, Maria will uncloak the depravity behind the country’s anti-drug policy. One day, cops storm Quezon City’s District 120, searching for anyone who has ever used or sold narcotics, and they end up on Maria and Arturo’s doorstep. While they used drugs in the past, Maria and Arturo are both clean, and Arturo emphasizes that he already did his time for past crimes. However, the cops still insist that they should be rounded up with the rest of the “addicts.” Maria and Arturo are tasked to pledge their purity, and they must perform a “recovery dance” under the umbrella of Project Tokhang, a rehabilitation center.
“After a devastating event, Maria will uncloak the depravity behind the policy.”
Maria and Arturo get through the program without provoking any trouble. Woefully, tragedy strikes when Arturo is murdered in an alley, with a cardboard sign beside his lifeless body that reads, “I’m a pusher, don’t be like me.” Maria maintains her husband’s innocence, but that still doesn’t change the fact that he’s gone, and citizens don’t buy into Maria’s plea of innocence. Now a newly-widowed mother with no income, Maria is unable to find a job now that her name has been featured on the news, and the community knows she once was a drug user. In this unforgiving society, “once an addict, always an addict.”
Maria is tempted by a cop named Ventura (Jake Macapagal) to become an informant, and in return, he may be able to get her name abolished from the infamous watch list that contains every known drug dealer and user. But Maria has her own suspicions about the police: she thinks the police, or someone the police knows, is behind Arturo’s murder, and they helped cover it up. After all, witnesses are afraid to come forward, and the CCTV cameras were conveniently shut off when Arturo was killed in a drive-by.
"…effectively reveals why the practices of Operation Tokhang should be denounced..."