Filipino reporter, 2 others win Pulitzer for Reuters series on drug war

Screenshot from Reuters’ “Duterte’s War.”

A Filipino reporter and two colleagues at the news agency Reuters were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy announced earlier today.

Manuel Mogato, who has been Reuters’ political and general news correspondent in Manila for close to 15 years, along with fellow reporters Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall, worked on “Duterte’s War,” a series of stories that covered different aspects of the anti-narcotics crackdown.

“It was a team effort. Everyone in the Manila bureau did their job but it was months of hard work, and I admired the courage, strength, and perseverance of the team to pursue the drugs war story,” Mogato told The Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

International media turned its attention to the Philippines in 2016, when the war on drugs started.

According to official police data, close to 4,000 people have been killed in police operations since then, but human rights groups put the number closer to 13,000.

One of the stories in the Reuters series titled The Davao Boys was hotly slammed by the administration when it was first published in December.

According to the report, the Davao Boys, a group of police officers from Duterte’s hometown who moved to Manila, allegedly killed 108 people in anti-drug operations from July 2016 to June 2017.

The administration criticized the report, with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque calling it “bad journalism” for publishing the story without his statement.

Roque said that he was only given one hour to reply to Reuters’ questions, but in a statement, the news agency said that they had actually given him a week.

“The claim that Reuters gave the president’s office just an hour to respond is untrue. Reuters sent questions to the president’s office a week before the story was published and the president’s office confirmed it had received them,” the statement read. “Reuters followed that up with phone calls and emails, but the president’s office never responded to our questions.”

Apart from Davao Boys, the Reuters series includes nine other stories. According to The Pulitzers’ website, it was awarded for  “relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.”

The Pulitzers, the most prestigious award in American journalism, are presented yearly by Columbia University.

Other winners this year include The New York Times and The New Yorker for their reporting on the sexual allegations that rocked Hollywood last year.

See the full list of winners here.

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