this is "nightline." >> tonight, war on drugs. a popular president calling for the slaughter of drug lords and addicts. police and hit squads openly killing suspects. >> there's a dead body, blood dripping down the street. >> bob woodruff reports from the philippines. >> oh no, that's your son. >> with vig lailante killers cog out of hiding as bodies continue to pile up under one man's reign of terror. going gosling. the leading man of la-la land has lived a life worth singing and dancing about. from his days in the mickey mouse club to making movie magic with emma stone. behind the scenes of his golden
globe-nominated performance and his training to play jazz piano on the silver screen. tonight, remembering alan thicke. ♪ show me the smile >> the star of "growing pains," the passing of the popular tv dad, dead at just 69. but first the "nightline 5." >> want longer-lasting heartburn relief? duo fusion goes to work in seconds and lasts up to 12 hours. tums only lasts three. for longi-lasting relief in one chewable tablet, duo fusion from the makers of zantac. just press clean and let roomba from i-robot help with everyday messes. roomba navigates your entire home, cleaning pet hair and debris for up to two hours which means you're floors are always clean. you and roomba from i-robot, better together
you think america's war on drugs has been controversial, wait until you see what we found in the philippines. that country's president has launched an unabashed ultra-violent anti-drug campaign and his followers love him for it. abc's bob woodruff takes us to the front lines. >> reporter: a dark and open secret. >> i will not hesitate to use the military and the police to go after the drug lords. >> reporter: lurking behind the facade of the widely celebrated president of the philippines -- >> hitler massacred 3 million jews. there is 3 million drug addicts. i'd be happy to slaughter them. >> reporter: rodrigo duterte calling on the police and ordinary citizens to kill drug dealers and users on sight. >> do it yourself if you have the gun, you have my support. >> reporter: a hugely
controversial approach to keeping order that has turned him into a kind of rock star here. rising on a wave of populist discontent, he's been called the donald trump of the east. but five months after he took office, the streets awash with blood. we captured a snapshot into the brutality of a single monday night in manila, capital of the philippines. these images are graphic. the city is reeling from thousands of murders like this one captured on closed circuit television. and what is clear through the lens of photo journalist rafe lerma is the vast majority are connected to the drug world here. >> sometimes it's just a dead body for me. sometimes you get affected. especially if there's a family. >> reporter: he's what's known as a nightcrawler, documenting for "the philippine daily inquirer," the killings that come to light after darkness falls. >> one victim on the street, another one in the back of this
bus. >> reporter: it doesn't take long before rafe's phone alerts us to the discovery of more bodies. >> it's worse than the death penalty. they don't have due process. >> we just got here. hard to tell from the light right now. there's a dead body, there's blood that's dripping down the street. >> reporter: at the moment, he's just a nameless victim. one of the more than 5,800 people who have been killed by police, by vigilantes, and others caught up in the war on drugs. in the crowd, a worried mother. >> what she knows, her son -- >> there's a picture. is that your son? >> reporter: soon an image on a reporter's camera confirms the terrible truth. >> oh, no, that's your son. >> reporter: alicia says her 23-year-old son j.r. had stopped taking drugs and never dealt them. but was picked up earlier in the
day by masked men. shortly after, the police sent out an announcement that they killed him. >> he shot out with police, prompting police to fire back. >> reporter: by the end of the evening we would witness the fresh aftermath of seven killings. the last two we've seen have the plastic tape wrapped around their faces, which usually means that they were executed. wrapped up, taken to another place. >> reporter: under half of the 19 bodies the police say they recovered that night alone. >> if the criminals, they are killed by the thousands, that's not my problem. >> reporter: duterte, while disavowing any specific involvement with the chronic killings, remains unapologetic in this recent al jazeera interview. >> destroy my country, i'll kill you. it's a legitimate thing. >> reporter: his approval ratings remain sky high. >> it's shocking to me it somehow remains unchallenged by
a larger part of our people. >> reporter: re. sa is a vocal opponent of duterte's war of drugs, a senator willing to take personal risk to criticize his use of the philippine national police, known as the pnp. >> the pnp is the forefront of this war on drugs. they are the spear point of the president's war on drugs. >> this is the hub -- >> reporter: john neery, editor in chief of inquirer.net, the country's largest newspaper site, says he sees dangerous. >> the president has been articulate, saying if you do your job, i will support you. some of the policemen receive this as a signal, we can do what we want. >> we follow the rule of law. >> reporter: the police vehemently deny being used as executioners. >> there have been deaths of suspects during police operations. why? because they have placed the lives of our police officers in danger. the police have no recourse but to defend themselves.
>> reporter: in fact, police allege that there are even more killings exacted by common criminals and apparent vigilantes, assassins whose motives remain murky. >> there are cases of what they call now the cardboard justice. but these are cases that are still under investigation. >> reporter: so we set out to find one of these shadowy figures who are willing to commit murder. >> we're going to go do an interview with the vigilante who apparently has a team of about 16 people that have been carrying out these assassinations. >> reporte >> translator: if the order is "kill that person," we do it. >> reporter: this man, a self-described vigilante who calls himself johnny, gave us a glimpse into what he says are the mechanics behind many of the killings. >> can you show me how you do it? show me physically how you kill somebody. >> translator: i know what time you'll pass by my place. i'll wait for you on this day. for example, you'll pass by, i will chase, gun him down. >> when you kill somebody like that, what does it feel like?
>> translator: nothing. if you kill addicts, it's helping the nation. that's the president's campaign. >> reporter: duterte's rise to power began here in this city davao. nearly 30 years ago he became mayor. reverence to their leader has seeped into every aspect of daily life here. >> do you like duterte? >> yes. >> reporter: the once-crime-ridden city is now considered the safest in the philippines. critics say that's because this is where duterte first began legitimatizing extra judicial killings. >> translator: our drug was to kill drug pushers. >> reporter: he spent 25 years as part of the long-rumored davao death squad, a band of volunteers who he says worked closely with the police to clean up that city. >> translator: i thought we'd be helping the good filipinos, that we were only killing bad people. >> reporter: he points a finger when asked about the chain of command. >> was the president, president duterte, involved in these kinds of killings?
did he give an order? >> translator: yes, our job was to kill the bad people he ordered us to. personally i've killed almost 50. >> reporter: matobato, that's his city i.d. card signed by duterte himself, surrendered to authorities in october. >> translator: duterte ordered us to massacre the mosques of the muslims. >> reporter: he's testified before a senate committee probing the spike in killings allegedly linked to the war on drugs and is now awaiting trial. duterte has denied knowing him. >> do you feel like your life is in danger right now? >> translator: i know that they will kill me. >> reporter: back in the capital we are with the police as they begin rounding up hundreds in a display of force. so the s.w.a.t. team and the police are now heading into a big square. where they're going to start to interview the locals to see who might be drug dealers, who might be drug users. police say it's an opportunity for drug users and dealers to surrender, come clean, and avoid being hunted down.
instead, the drug suspects end up here, the quezon city jail, where effects of the drug campaign are unmistable. it's jammed, look at this. >> the ideal capacity of this facility should be 800 inmates only. but right now we have 3,319. >> reporter: inmates pile on top of each other. not surprisingly, many say they are in fear for their lives. what's your recommendation to those that are drug dealers? >> translator: my advice to them, if they're still into it, stop it. for sure president duterte's administration will not stop hunting them. >> reporter: some fear it is a hunt that can reach over prison walls. like what is believed to have happened to local mayor ramondo espinoza, who duterte accused of being a drug kingpin. >> he had surrendered, he was in jail. at 4:00 in the morning he was served a search warrant, was supposed to have engaged in a firefight. >> reporter: police say the mayor pulled out a gun, forcing
them to kill him. >> how could he even have a gun? he was already in jail. >> here in the philippines there are two killings of politicians within a week by police. is that because of the campaign? >> during this time of the search there was resistance. and especially the life of the officers are threatened, then normally they can defend themselves. >> but the resistance was what? what happened that led to the confrontation and then the killing? >> reporter: the police rep refuses to go further. >> we are waiting for the details of that investigation. >> reporter: but federal investigators would later determine that the imprisoned mayor was assassinated by the police. last week president duterte says president-elect trump told him in a phone call -- >> "you're doing great. i know you worry about americans criticizing you, you're doing good, go ahead." >> reporter: in an e-mail to abc news the trump transition team ac knowledged receiving a congratulatory call from duterte but said that "there wasn't
enough time on that courtesy call to talk about the details of policies." for now, law and order wears a pained face as another mother must bid farewell to her son, without understanding why. >> translator: there's no justice when they killed him. i want to give him a proper funeral. >> our prayers are with you. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm bob woodruff in manila. >> our thanks to bob for that extraordinary report. for more, go to abcnews.com. coming up next here, something entirely different. we sit down with ryan gosling, the leading man in the new and critically acclaimed movie "la la land." how aspects of this new role so closely resemble his own life. anything else to talk about. ds but then i realized there was. so, i finally broke the silence with my doctor about what i was experiencing.
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for my money you'd be hard-pressed to find a smoother, cooler leading man than ryan gosling. he's now taken on a new role that both tested his limits and mirrored his own personal life. he sits down tonight with chris connelly. >> reporter: long before "the notebook." his status of hollywood's low-key leading man and this week's golden globe nomination ron gosling was a teenager from cornwall, ontario, who moved to l.a. to be an actor. >> it's not easy to leave your hometown and your family and come out to los angeles to pursue a dream where the odds are not in your favor. >> reporter: that same yearning sustains his and emma stone's characters in "la la land." >> my dream.
>> this is the dream. it's conflict and it's compromi compromise. it's very, very exciting. >> it helped reinvigorate my understanding and love for l.a., i think. it can also an place where really incredible things happen. >> reporter: not much more incredible than gosling's quiet rise to the top of the a-list, bolstered by a mix of offbeat and heartfelt films. from the brash "drive." to the tender "blue valentine." ♪ you always hurt the ones you love ♪ >> he won a national math competition in china -- >> reporter: the comedy ensemble "the big short." >> i'm sure of the math. >> reporter: in "la la land" gosling's pianist finds his jazz dream going south. >> you're fired. >> it's christmas. >> yeah, i see the decorations, good luck in the new year. >> that's the worst time to meet a potential love interest but that's exactly what he meets her.
♪ ♪ >> i just heard you play. and i want to -- >> reporter: he and stone's mia click amid showbiz magic. his on-screen chemistry with emma stone, their third film together, as major plus. >> you put them on screen together and they create this magic that it's like the best special effect. >> reporter: gosling and gisele would review "singing in the rain" notebooks. their visit to gene kelly's widow's home nearly ended in disaster. >> she had a little dog, we forgot to close the door and it ran into the street. damian and i chasing this dog through traffic looking at each other like, this has to end in a nice way. we caught him and everything was fine. >> i'm relieved just thinking of it. >> reporter: the history lesson paid off with gosling and stone's magic hour duets. >> we were never asked to do things that we couldn't do, because if we weren't meant to be broadway performers -- >> you'd danced before, you had
dance experience. >> well -- '90s hip-hop doesn't seem to translate into soft shoe. ♪ >> reporter: this performance part of his preteen days at a toronto dance studio. ♪ >> wearing the harem pants. >> right, wearing harem pants. >> reporter: onstage pizzazz that helped earn young gosling his first break. >> my hometown, cornwall, ontario -- >> reporter: he was part of the cast of the all-new mickey mouse club which would assemble an array of talent. britney, christina, justin, keri russell, a golden globe nominee as well. two decades later, "la la land" returned gosling to music as he learned jazz piano. ♪ >> it's a lot of time alone. you become quite anti-social. and every time i tried to have a conversation during that rehearsal period with anybody, i was a bit like bambi on ice or something.
this beautiful music. i have to say, when i met with damian, we met at a bar near my house. when i walked home, the theme for the film was in my inbox. it was so beautiful i thought, wow, he really does have a chance at making something special here. ♪ city of stars are you shining just for me ♪ >> i had to play that piece of music for six months for hours every day. and i should be sick of it. but i'm not. i think it's a testament to how good it is. ♪ all that i need is a crazy feeling ♪ >> reporter: audiences are likely to agree. as the boy from cornwall, ontario, now a father of two young daughters by long-time love eva mendes, discovered when he returned to canada for a screening of the film. >> it casts some kind of a spell on people. i saw it in toronto. very unique experience. >> maybe i'm not good enough.
>> yes, you are. >> i've also always been a fan of this genre of musical. it seemed like that ship had sailed, so it was really amazing to have the opportunity to make something like this. >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm chris connelly in los angeles. next, remembering a popular tv dad. the star of "growing pains" alan thicke. lemonheads/schoolhouse rock) zero really can be a hero. get zero down, zero deposit, zero due at signing, and zero first month's payment on select volkswagen models. right now at the volkswagen sign then drive event.
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finally we're learning about the passing of a beloved tv dad. >> not only is this my son, this is my best buddy! >> reporter: people of a certain age will know alan thicke as the affable dad from the abc sitcom "growing pains." ♪ show me the smile >> reporter: younger folks will know him as the real-life father to the singer robin thicke. alan thicke was born in 1947 in ontario, canada. he made his name as jason seaver in "growing pains." he was a man of many skills. acting and songwriting.
he wrote the theme for abc's "different strokes." ♪ different strokes to move the world ♪ >> reporter: celebrities taking to twitter saying good-bye. his publicist says he died from a heart attack. alan thicke was 69 years old. thank you for watching abc news tonight. as always, we are online 24/7 at abcnews.com and on our "nightline" facebook page. thanks again for watching and good night.
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