Raffy Lerma is a freelance photographer based in Manila, Philippines. He began his career in photojournalism as a student of the College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines Diliman, covering the events that led to the ouster of former president Joseph Estrada in 2001. First a staff photographer for the Philippine Collegian, he later served as the photo editor for the official student publication of the university in 2004. Lerma finished his diploma in Photojournalism at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. He was also the Philippine representative in Hanoi, Vietnam for World Press Photo – Asia Europe Foundation Forum for Young Photographers in 2004.
For twelve years, Lerma worked as a staff photographer for Philippine Daily Inquirer, covering the daily news beat in Metro Manila. He has recently shifted into working independently in order focus on documenting the Philippines’ war on drugs. His most well-known photo is of drug war victim Michael Siaron, a pedicab driver and urban slum dweller, who was shot dead in July 23, 2016. His killers left a cardboard sheet with the words “drug pusher, do not copy” next to Siaron’s body. Lerma’s photograph of Michael being cradled by his grieving partner, Jennilyn, while a crowd of bystanders watch from behind the police cordon was featured on the front page of news outlets around the world. It provoked an outpouring of sympathy and outrage about the drug war from different segments of Philippine society while President Duterte vilified it as as “melodramatic” during his first State of the Nation Address.
Lerma gives talks in different parts of the Philippines and the world to disseminate to a broader audience the realities of the Philippines’ drug war.
For the original captions, see Raffy Lerma Instagram