A Filipino Reuters journalist has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his unflinching coverage of President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Manuel Mogato, who has been a Reuters correspondent in Manila for nearly 15 years, along with fellow reporters Clare Baldwin and Andrew Marshall, worked on “Duterte’s War”, a series of articles on 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 began to pay close attention to the Philippines in 2016, when the war on drugs was launched.
According to official police data, close to 4,000 people have been killed in police operations since then, but some human rights groups put the number closer to 13,000.
One of the stories in the Reuters series, The Davao Boys, was angrily denounced by the administration when it was published in December.
According to this report, the Davao Boys were a group of cops from Duterte’s stronghold who moved to Manila and killed 108 people in anti-drug operations between July 2016 and June 2017.
The administration criticised the report, with presidential spokesman Harry Roque called it “bad journalism” for publishing the story without his statement. As we reported at the time, he passed this judgement despite admitting that he hadn’t read the article in question.
Roque claimed that he was given only one hour to reply to Reuters’ questions. However, the news agency countered that they had in fact 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.”
Other than the Davao Boys, the Reuters series included nine other articles. According to The Pulitzers’ website, they amounted to “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.