• Rappler’s 7,000 and its war against statistics

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    ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

    RAPPLER is having a word war with Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao.

    In a news article first posted on September 13, 2016 and last updated on March 26, 2017,Rappler wrote: “There had been over 7,000 deaths linked to the ‘war on drugs’ – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings (including deaths under investigation) from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.”

    Tiglao challenged Rappler’s statistics in his column of March 20. He pointed out that Rappler’s figure of 7,080 deaths since July, 2016 is erroneous, considering that it is a simple sum of the number of deaths resulting from legitimate police drug-related operations (2,555) and those who died from causes yet to be determined, but many of which are suspected to be drug-related (4,525).

    This is a fair criticism, considering that it is in fact wrong to assume that all 7,080 deaths are linked to the war on drugs, when only 2,555 are certainly due to legitimate and government-authorized causes, while the real causes of the remaining have yet to be confirmed after an investigation.

    The only fair conclusion that a prudent journalist would have had was that there are at least over 2,500 deaths linked to the war on drugs, and the figure could go as high as 7,000, assuming that all the other deaths under investigation will be proven to be drug-related.

    The key word is “suspected,” for it is not correct to assume that just because the victim is a drug user or pusher, that such death is already a confirmed case that is directly related to the war on drugs. It is also not accurate to assume that just because the death is vigilante style, or unexplained, that it is already related to the war on drugs.

    Reporting statistics is always a tricky game. What is even trickier is how to accurately describe the numbers and figures contained in tables, bar graphs and pie charts.

    Rappler’s transgression lies in the words used by Michael Bueza, the writer of the article. He committed the mistake of making a conclusion that is not supported by data, when he categorically stated that all 7,080 deaths were linked to the war on drugs, without the caveat that that is just a maximum possibility, and not a certainty.

    Without such caveat, 7,080 became a lethal statistic that was reproduced, used and appropriated by those who want to profit from its misrepresentation.

    In a scathing defense against Tiglao’s criticism, Rappler, in an article that was not claimed by any author, suggesting that it is a collective stance, argued that the PNP, without backing this up with a direct quote or a named source to provide evidence, only began using DUI when the government’s war on drugs came under attack. In doing this, Rappler insinuated that the term DUI was used not as an honest attempt to make a clean presentation of the data, where unexplained deaths are given a label, but that it was a sinister attempt to deodorize death statistics.

    Rappler’s fixation on death statistics has turned its reporting to a war on statistics itself. It incorrectly assumed that all unexplained deaths are conclusively related to the war on drugs. When taken to task for making such faulty conclusion, it has used as a defense the suggestion that the label DUI appears to be just a PNP strategy to reduce the negative impact of the number of deaths.

    Rappler must be told that regardless of whether or not the label DUI exists, the total number of deaths remains to be 7,080. The only certain deaths due to the government’s war on drugs is 2,555. A substantial number of the remaining deaths, now labeled as DUI, could possibly be related to drugs, and hence are collateral incidents to the government’s war, although not in the hands of the police engaged in a legitimate operation. However, those deaths need to be investigated, considering that it is wrong to conclude that all the DUI are in fact drug-related.

    Rappler made the wrong conclusion that all 7,080 deaths are linked to the war on drugs.

    This is what Tiglao has criticized. And this is its biggest sin, because this error has become the root of one of the most damaging fake news in recent history.

    But instead of apologizing to the people, Rappler resorted to ad hominem attacks. This is what Rappler wrote: “What the ex-journalist and Arroyo apologist Tiglao should have done was to verify this claim and do his own legwork or, if he can’t, research his way through Google. But Tiglao is out to get Rappler. And that’s the only explanation for his series of fake news about us.”

    It is outrageous that in trying to defend itself, Rappler miserably failed to reflect that it is the one whose flawed conclusion betrayed its failure to verify its claim, do leg work and conduct robust research.

    Tiglao is being accused as one out to get Rappler.

    But Rappler is the one that is out to get the President, even if it has to declare a war on statistics by misrepresenting deaths to propagate fakery.

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    34 Comments

    1. I wish I could meet Maria Ressa or Pia Ranada in person….because I want to yell at them and ask them “why are you destroying the image of our country with your fake news? Are you happy with what you are doing, deceiving people?”!

    2. Huwag na laang nating pasikatin ang R—–r. Wala namang gaanong nagbabasa niyan,e. Malamang na kasamahan yan ng sindikato ng mga dyaryo dito sa atin – kasama ng Liberal – na napahiya sa pagkatalo ng mga manok nila kay Du30 at di makaahon sa biglaang pagkawala sa kapangyarihan, kaperahan at kasikatan. Ika nga sa Batangas: ala ay yae na mga magma-manok na mga iyan….mga Bagong Makapili mga iyan.

    3. One of the founders of Rappler by the name of Maria Rezza needs to make as much money as she can to support her girlfriend otherwise her girlfriend will leave her for someone else. So for Maria, it is not a question of journalism anymore but of pesos and perhaps maybe even dollars.

    4. I believe that Rappler is out to get the President and that Tiglao is out to get Rappler. But why so much fuzz about the accuracy of numbers.

      Rappler was wrong for making it appear that there were around 7,000 EJKs. I think you are right Rappler should have mentioned that 2,555 were due to legitimate police operations and the rest were DUI.

      But how much is the difference in damage to a well dressed man of a pail of red paint than that of a drum of red paint?

    5. Maybe we can look back, who are the men and women of Rappler and when it come to the people’s consciousness. Are they legit or just doing business to make a living or giving real information to inform the people. It is blurred right now, so it is up to us (readers) what to believe.
      Anyway, thank you Prof. Contreras, I always read your articles. How’s the impeachment case of VP? It is base on “condescending” “libelous” if not treasonous remarks, isn’t it. And it has to be pursued with fervor and finality…to remove doubts of politics. Just saying, not suggesting, Sir.

    6. Rappler is a tool being used by those who want to destroy our country. I stopped reading rappler, unfollowed it…full lies and twisted truth.

    7. Rappler is self-destructing in the eyes of the Filipino people. Just like Leni Robredo, BS Aquino, Leila De Lima, Alejano, Trillanes and the dilaw-ans.

    8. It is best to leave Rappler alone. You are just giving them exposure since nobody takes Rappler seriously. Its readers have greatly declined since being exposed to be nothing but a propaganda tool of the yellow media. The Manila Times is a million times better than the mediocre Rappler and it should not stoop to the level of the latter. The Rappler columnists are short of being called paid hacks and pathetic doomsayers. To this date their kind of journalism can be classified as a vanishing breed. Good riddance.

    9. marco labrador on

      Rappler is being used a a TOOL. With their revenue from sales of their product dwindling, they have to look for other souces of funds. The yellows are the principal providers. So, to hell with Rappler. And thank you Mr. Tiglao.

    10. Rappler has come to define spin journalism during the previous administration and media assassination in the current.

    11. Statistics? The city of Chicago, in the USA, has a population of 2.7 million, or less than 3% of the Philippines population.. Yet in 2016, there were over 700 murders and 4700 shootings. In one city alone. Where is the world wide outrage there?
      Chicago was Obama’s home district, yet he commented on the Philippines, never saying or doing anything about Chicago.

      • Now, that is what you called and man of deep thoughts and wisdom and its a pity that only you notice this and to add a catholic priest is paying any informants in the Chicago about drugs and murders. For me, Obama has lost his touch but he still thinks that the world owes him big that whatever he says is the real truth and he is just as hypocritical when it serves his best interest. This is our fight and we fight to win against this drug scourge, criminality and corruption and to add the church embraced as of their causes (as a patron saint of the drug users) because clearly they are dying as well because of their irrelevancy to the society and they lost the moral grounds because of the many sins they committed unbeknownst to the faithful (what a pity) .

    12. Who will ever believed you, you e the most bias columnist second to Tiglao. You can spin on the figures but the truth will always prevail. Look back in History, the holocaust possibly could have been prevented if the media in Germany could have been vigilant and truthful of what’s going on. The rest is history.

      • You must be from cRappler and definitely a yellowturd. The above article is very clear yet you refused to understand. The literal intent is as clear as day but your thoughts are as dark as coal. Gone are the good old days for you yellow hypocrites professing holier than thou mantras but in reality are just a bunch of corrupt and opportunists power grabbers. The people have awaken from your fake posturings the reason your candidate was trounced even with rampant cheating.

      • Look who’s spinning on the figures. There were millions killed in the Holocaust, yet you just have to compare it to deaths that don’t even live up to half of its actual number. Big words won’t save your lost cause.

      • sundalong kanin on

        Believe what you want to believe. If you want to believe that delima is the reincarnation of the virgin mary so be it. But fact is rappler is just a paid news group with zero credibility. By participating in this forum you have shown that journalist here @ manila times are not biased if not you would have stayed in reading rappler.

      • pablo sanchez on

        what is the bias you are referring to? are you a die hard rappler fanatic? you should check fact before you used the word bias. this is notabs cbn gma nyt rappler of pdi. maybe you are barking at the wrong tree.

      • troll yan ni Mar Liar Roxas at Leni Tawa Tawa Robredo sweldo na kasi nila bukas kaya need nya magpost dito. Millenials analyze this when Leni Tawa Tawa Robredo reported to UN that “Filipinos are helpless and hopeless” she’s good on red lipstick and with all that smiles lol so Millenials yang mga Luyang Dilaw ba sasamahan nyo sa Edsa?

    13. I always question numbers and where they came from when someone uses them. The saying is that numbers don’t lie, but liars do. I believe the PNP are reporting honestly. This is the honest way to report the numbers: 2,555 deaths occurred during police operations and the cause of remaining of 4,525 deaths are unknown at this time.

    14. Rudi Miranda on

      AP Contreras maraming salamat! // Rappler made the wrong conclusion that all 7,080 deaths are linked to the war on drugs.

      This is what Tiglao has criticized. And this is its biggest sin, because this error has become the root of one of the most damaging fake news in recent history.

      But instead of apologizing to the people, Rappler resorted to ad hominem attacks. This is what Rappler wrote: “What the ex-journalist and Arroyo apologist Tiglao should have done was to verify this claim and do his own legwork or, if he can’t, research his way through Google. But Tiglao is out to get Rappler. And that’s the only explanation for his series of fake news about us.”

      It is outrageous that in trying to defend itself, Rappler miserably failed to reflect that it is the one whose flawed conclusion betrayed its failure to verify its claim, do leg work and conduct robust research.

      Tiglao is being accused as one out to get Rappler.

      But Rappler is the one that is out to get the President, even if it has to declare a war on statistics by misrepresenting deaths to propagate fakery.// More pa, more pa.

    15. Thank you Prof. Contreras! What an enlightenment. Rappler is panicky, now that its brand of journalism is seen to be what it really is! A far cry from the sham of “excellence” that they have been promoting. It could not even do simple research writing procedure where the required citing of references of source(s) and categorization of data is a must. Thank you too, Manila Times for your kind of journalism.

      • Liars need to be silenced with the truth even to the extent of repeating the truth over and over again on the lies they are spouting which have been quoted by international groups and media as the gospel truth. Kudos Mr Contreras for adding angle to exposing Rappler’s blatant LIES!

      • It’s all statistics vs statistics. You can’t disprove an alleged wrong statistics by saying multiple times that another statistics is the sacred truth. The burden of proof is on Tiglao. Everyone is questioning the authenticity of Rappler’s figures. Show evidences that Rappler’s statistics are all wrong so we could all sleep soundly.

    16. How true indeed…the writer nailed on the head to explain Rappler’s behaviour. Attacking a journalist for showing the public the real issue at hand, for me is an indication of low class attribute.