A Redemptorist Brother, Jun is making a difference in the field of photojournalism in Philippines. Brother Ciriaco (Jun) Santiago, CSsR, 46, who is a member of the Redemptorist Community in Baclaran, after fulfilling his religious commitments, spends time to document the crime and violence that disturbs the nights of Philippines after the Government has declared a war on drugs.
“Brother Jun is also a longtime photographer, and as a result, he has one foot in two influential institutions in the Philippines: the church and the media. By day, he attends to religious duties at a parish in Manila. After hours, he goes into the field as one of the dozens of “nightcrawlers” documenting President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drug dealers and users. Since Duterte took office seven months ago, more than 7,000 people have been killed in official police operations and vigilante killings tied to the crackdown. But as bodies keep appearing in the streets, complaints are growing at home. Through his humanitarian work and photojournalism, Brother Jun occupies a unique position in the fight to document the drug war and help its victims. He is a bridge between two worlds, and his unusual role shows how nontraditional journalism can serve the public interest while working in tandem with the mainstream media.”
When Brother Jun takes photos, he is not angling for the images to be picked up by a wire service and published in mainstream news outlets. The photo display of crime scenes at churches was, in fact, one of the few times his work has ever been exhibited before a general audience. The church, which stores his images in an archive, uses them to assess damage for relief and rebuilding or to develop assistance programs.
His first encounter with the drug war involved the families of victims, who came to the church begging for help with funeral costs. They just kept coming. He wanted to do more. He was already a member of the Photojournalism Center of the Philippines, and he knew some photographers. “I need to go out at night,” he thought. The church management endorsed the idea. “So I joined the nightcrawlers.”
(Courtesy: Columbia Journalism Review)
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