MALACANANG on Tuesday lauded a Filipino journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs but maintained that administration’s anti-narcotics campaign was legitimate.
Speaking to reporters in Boracay, Palace spokesman Harry Roque reiterated that alleged drug-related killings were not state-sanctioned and that police would act within the law.
“Definitely, I’d have to congratulate Manuel Mogato, but the fact remains that the policy of the President on the drug war is that the drug war is legitimate. It’s intended to protect the youth from the ill effects of drugs,” Roque said during a press conference.
“The killings committed by state authorities are for as long as they are legal, will be defended by the state. But as in the case of Kian de los Santos, if the killings are contrary to law and unjustified, he will cause the criminal prosecution of the policemen themselves. So that’s the state of the drug war,” he added.
Roque made the statement after Filipino journalist Manuel Mogato won the Pulitzer for “International Reporting” with Reuters colleagues Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall for their “relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.”
The three were behind Reuters’ winning work, a series called “Duterte’s War”, which looks into the “bloody drug crackdown in the Philippines.”
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) also congratulated Mogato.
“The [FOCAP] congratulates Manuel Mogato, our dear member and member of the board for bagging the much-coveted Pulitzer Prize along with his fellow Reuters reporters Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall for relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs,” the FOCAP board said in a statement.
At the same time, FOCAP also commended Mogato for his story amid the “dangers” in today’s journalism.
“Despite some dangers inherent in today journalism work, Manny remained steadfast and dedicated in carrying out his job,” the FOCAP said.
Mogato is Reuters’ political and general news correspondent in Manila while Baldwin is the international news agency’s special correspondent, who has investigated the Philippine “drug war” since June 2016.
Meanwhile, Marshall, who also won in the same Pulitzer Prize category in 2014, is Reuters’ Southeast Asia special correspondent.
The Philippines’ “drug war” began in 2016, shortly after Duterte assumed office.
According to government authorities, more than 4,000 suspects were killed in anti-drug operations since the start of the drug campaign in July 2016.
Local and international human rights groups said Duterte in his public pronouncements ordered or encouraged policemen to kill those involved in the drug trade. They said this resulted in more than 13,000 extrajudicial killings in the drug war.
The Pulitzer awards recognize achievements in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism, literature, and music composition in the United States since 1917. Their award for International Reporting honors journalists who have shown excellence in covering international affairs. CATHERINE S. VALENTE, DEMPSEY REYES