Rappler Team Wins 2 Awards For Drug War Story

Screenshot from Rappler.com

ONLINE NEWS site Rappler‘s investigative team won the Society of Publishers in Asia‘s (SOPA) Excellence in Human Rights Reporting Award and Excellence in Investigative Reporting Award for a 2018 series on the Duterte administration’s so-called drug war.

On May 29, SOPA announced that Rappler‘s seven-part investigative story, “Murder in Manila,”  won two awards: the Group B Excellence in Human Rights Reporting Award, and the Group B Excellence in Investigative Reporting Award.

In a November 2018 monitor, CMFR cheered the series for finding “strong indications” of police-vigilante link, while much of the media had reduced the Duterte “drug war” narrative to mere crime reports. As CMFR noted in its study on media’s coverage of the drug war, “it is not too late to update coverage of the continuing war on drugs and to raise questions about what it has gained and what has been lost.”

The story was written and investigated by Patricia Evangelista, photographed by Magnum fellow Carlo Gabuco, with reports by justice beat reporter Lian Buan and police reporter Rambo Talabong, with design by Dominic Go. Rappler‘s investigative team, Newsbreak, is headed by editor and Rappler founder Chay Hofileña.

The series was published daily for a week beginning October 4, 2018, with the story “Some People Need Killing.” It investigates the local chapter of a vigilante gang in Tondo, Manila, whose members had been arrested for murdering drug suspects and small-time criminals, including a 16-year old boy.

A judge in the Investigative Reporting category described the Rappler piece as “brave, tenacious and granular investigative reporting into how Philippines President Duterte’s war on drugs was carried out, through the eyes of those who pulled the trigger on addicts, while getting backroom bribes from dealers.”

“This is the kind of reporting that reminds a reader why the free press is vital to a democracy,” the judge said.

ABS-CBN News Digital’s Stories From Under The Rubble: Inside The Battle Of Marawi and The Boracay Project received honorable mentions for Excellence in Journalistic Innovation and Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, respectively. Meanwhile, GMA News Online’s Tiempo Muerto | Hope Springs in the Season of Death also garnered an honorable mention for Excellence in Feature Writing.

See the links below for Rappler‘s series.

Part 1 | ‘Some people need killing’

Part 2 | ‘The cops were showing off’

Part 3 | ‘Get it from the chief’

Part 4 | ‘What did the CSG do wrong?’

Part 5 | ‘I finish the job’

Part 6 | ‘There are snakes everywhere’

Part 7 | ‘It’s war’