It is so rare to bag a Pulitzer Prize but this Filipino did

April 18, 2018 - 4:00 PM
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Policemen knock door to door and interview residents during a drug testing operation in Payatas, Quezon City. (Reuters/Dondi Tawatao, file)

Manila-based journalist Manuel “Manny” Mogato was honored with a Pulitzer Prize—one of the most prestigious international awards in journalism—for his investigation, along with two other reporters, into the deadly war on drugs.

Mogato’s shared his 2018 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting with his Reuters colleagues Claire Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall.

Mogato was part of the Reuters team who did a special series titled “Duterte’s War,” exposing police abuses in the campaign.

Many Filipinos poured their congratulations for his exposure of what appeared to be a perilous topic for local journalists.

The hard exposé

Reuters’ series detailed everything from PNP covering up the killings to the formation of the “Davao Boys,” a secretive police squad said to be behind the killings.

Their coverage included investigative pieces with exclusive videos, photos and numerical figures.

“What gave our stories their potency — and what so enraged the Duterte administration — was our use of the Philippine police’s own data, mainly in the form of crime reports, to undermine and disprove official claims,” Marshall wrote in a Reuters Backstory article published Wednesday.

The “Special Report: Police describe kill rewards, staged crime scenes in Duterte’s drug war” tackled how PNP admitted to receiving money, planting evidence, killing people and blaming it on vigilante groups.

Death of a schoolboy” looked into the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.

Mogato and his colleagues gathered testimonies from local residents to offer facts and piece together a report that showed what happened beyond false statements and cover-ups.

The “Blood and benefits: Duterte imposes his hometown formula on the Philippines” explored how Davaoeño people described Duterte’s iron-fist way of ruling and his reputation as a city mayor.

A look at other Filipino Pulitzer winners 

Mogato is the second Manila-based Filipino to have bagged a Pulitzer since 1942.

The first one was Carlos Romulo, who was awarded the 1942 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Correspondence “for his observations and forecasts of Far Eastern developments during a tour of the trouble centers from Hong Kong to Batavia.”

There were other Filipino-Americans who gained recognition for their journalism.

Seattle-based Byron Acohido bagged the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting on “The Seattle Times.” He covered the aerospace industry and did an extensive investigation of Boeing 737’s rudder control problems.

The cover photo of Pulitzer on their official Facebook page. (Facebook/Pulitzer)

Oregon-based Alex Tizon won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting on “The Seattle Times” with his colleagues. They covered fraud and corruption in the Federal Indian Housing Program. Tizon was the author of the viral “My Family’s Slave” published by The Atlantic in June 2017 after his death.

Washington-based Cheryl Diaz Meyer won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography on “The Dallas Morning News” with her colleague. They covered the war in Iraq with striking pictures of the conflict.

San Francisco-based Jose Antonio Vargas won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting on “The Washington Post” with his colleagues. They covered the Virginia Tech shooting in online and in print.

The prize recognizes people who excel in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, as well as those who excel in literature and music competition.