Malacañang “respects” Pulitzer decision
A freelance photographer for The New York Times was one of the many journalists selected for the coveted 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his photographs depicting the anti-drug campaign in the Philippines.
The Pulitzer Prize board selected Australian photojournalist Daniel Berehulak’s blistering photo series “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals” for the Breaking News Photography category for his “powerful storytelling…showing the callous disregard for human life in the Philippines brought about by a government assault on drug dealers and users.”
Berehulak’s series — which was shot over a span of 35 days — featured 57 murder victims at 41 sites in the Manila and Quezon City areas. It provided an inside look at rainy crime scenes, overcrowded jails filled with drug suspects and night shots of city life that set the backdrop of the crackdown.
“What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to ‘slaughter them all,’” the photojournalist wrote in the article that accompanied his photos.
This is Berehulak’s second Pulitzer; he won in 2015 for feature photography for his coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Despite its criticism of Western coverage on the drug war, Malacañang said it respects the Pulitzer Prize Board’s decision to award Berehulak for the images.
“The Pulitzer Prize Board has its own criteria and selection process and we respect their decision on this matter,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella wrote in a statement on Tuesday, also acknowledging “the Western press has been highly critical of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drug traffickers and violators.”
Media coverage on President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent drug crackdown has made international headlines since the president assumed office last June, and the president has not taken too kindly to the coverage.
Most recently, Duterte called out the media for “unfair” and “twisted” coverage on his presidency, accusing various domestic publications of distorting his words regarding the war on drugs.
“They become really vicious and virulent,” the president said in remarks before the Philippine Councilors’ League on Thursday, March 29. “Ganun yan. Mabasa, makita mo naman talagang tinitwist nila. Yung slant na slant. Sinasadya nila. (They’re like that. You can read and see how they twist [the story], the slant. They do it consciously). They do not complete the sentence. They zero-in on the adjective or however you describe the situation.”