This story by reporter Rambo Talabong explored the regional shift of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. For the longest time, the country’s capital, Metro Manila, has been thought of as the center for the killings. But it has dispersed to the provinces, more so in the region above: Central Luzon. The story also traces that the policemen who were once in Metro Manila now hold key posts in the region. Former Metro Manila cops who handle provinces record the highest killings in drug operations. The data tells this story.
Based on Philippine police’s own data for 2018, Central Luzon recorded almost double the number of killed drug suspects in police operations compared to figures in Metro Manila. Most of the killings come from Bulacan, which is now led by a controversial former Metro Manila police chief.
What makes this project innovative?
The report made a deep dive into the Philippine "drug war" numbers, which the government discloses sparingly. It also looks at what possibly caused the massive shift in killings: the exodus of former Metro Manila cops into the now deadly region.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The report shifts the narrative of Duterte’s drug war from the capital-centric coverage and attention, to the surrounding provinces, which have seen more killings in police operations as Metro Manila records lower and lower kill numbers. Philippine media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility hailed the story "for keeping the 'drug war' in the news." It added, "The report should lead other journalists to look at other aspects” of the anti-drug campaign.
Source and methodology
The data was sourced from deep contacts in the Philippine National Police.
Data from Philippine police were encoded in a spreadsheet, then transferred to Datawrapper to create graphs and a map for the story.
Reporter: Rambo Talabong