Project description

Amid the pitched battle in Marawi City between soldiers and extremist forces, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs lingers across the nation. The numbers of those killed, arrested, or had been coaxed to surrender continue to rise. On March 6, 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Order No. 15 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) composed of 20 law enforcement and other agencies "to suppress the drug problem in the country." Among its tasks is to "ensure intensive conduct of advocacy campaign initiatives."Last May 2, at a press conference ICAD launched its weekly publication #RealNumbersPH to serve as the official, and supposedly true and correct, report on the drug war.The President and some ICAD officials had lamented what they called the misreporting and exaggeration by the news media of the casualty toll and other numbers of the drug war. What they left out was that most of those stories were based on information provided by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other official sources.Indeed, the drug war’s narrative has been crowded with constantly changing concepts and terms, decked in numbers inflated then deflated and later inflated again. It is a narrative defined from a war waged mainly as a police operation, its “accomplishments” or success pegged on an ever-lengthening trail of bodies and victims, but with no certain answers for whence or how it should end, and bereft of solid baselines and firm targets. But from all indications, the war on drugs has also turned into a battle over numbers and public-relations points for the Duterte administration. Our report presents PCIJ’s findings on the numbers of the drug war that are flawed on the level of facts and context, as well as their policy implications.

What makes this project innovative?

Over 11 months, PCIJ has been monitoring, collecting, curating, and organizing data and documents on the government’s war against drugs. It has also sent dozens of request letters to the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, as well as police regional and local commands to build a database on the drug war.PCIJ's files now host over 2.7 gigabytes of data on the drug menace and the drug war, with data as early as 2010 and as current as May 2017. To clarify the numbers enrolled in #RealNumbersPH and gather even more data, PCIJ also conducted separate lengthy interviews with senior officials of the PNP, PDEA, and DDB.PCIJ has also produced video shorts from our interviews with the PNP, PDEA, and DDB, as well as dozens of infographics featuring time-series and relational datasets, with some disaggregated by regions of the country, to complement these stories. PCIJ also published a string of memes to explain the terms, concepts, and protocols in law relevant to the conduct of the war on drugs to help inform citizens about how to assert their rights and monitor possible violations of due process and rule of law.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

PCIJ’s report was cited by IDEFEND at US Congress hearing on the war on drugs in the Philippines. iDefend spokesman cited the "very good analysis and research of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism" as part of the human rights community's references, apart from field reports from other groups. This was made in response to a question about basis for documentation of the drug war. PCIJ's report has been reposted and used as reference by a number of journalism and secondary-level schools and has been cited in a story published by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The stories were also syndicated to major online news websites, both local and national. The stories also got fairly high online engagement, by volume of shares, likes, and retweets on Facebook and Twitter.

Source and methodology

Over 11 months, PCIJ has been monitoring, collecting, curating, and organizing data and documents on the government’s war against drugs. It has also sent dozens of request letters to the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, as well as police regional and local commands to build a database on the drug war.PCIJ's files now host over 2.7 gigabytes of data on the drug menace and the drug war, with data as early as 2010 and as current as May 2017. To clarify the numbers enrolled in #RealNumbersPH and gather even more data, PCIJ also conducted separate lengthy interviews with senior officials of the PNP, PDEA, and DDB.PCIJ also produced video shorts from our interviews with the PNP, PDEA, and DDB, as well as dozens of infographics featuring time-series and relational datasets, with some disaggregated by regions of the country, to complement these stories. PCIJ also published a string of memes to explain the terms, concepts, and protocols in law relevant to the conduct of the war on drugs to help inform citizens about how to assert their rights and monitor possible violations of due process and rule of law.

Technologies Used

PCIJ maintained spreadsheets of the data obtained from multiple government agencies and worked on them collaboratively via sharing platforms. PCIJ also used image applications to render the visualizations.

Project members

Malou MangahasCecile BalgosVino LuceroDavinci MaruNancy C. CarvajalJohn Reiner Antiquerra

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