AUSTRALIAN freelance photographer Daniel Berehulak has won the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award in US journalism, for the images published in The New York Times showing the spate of killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s intensified campaign against narcotics.
Berehulak’s photo essay “They are Slaughtering Us Like Animals: Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal anti-drug campaign in the Philippines,” documented more than 57 homicide victims over 35 days―and at the height of the killings as a result of the police’s intensified crackdown against illegal drugs.
“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,” Berehulak said.
“You can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more.”
Some 47 cases of alleged summary killings in the Philippines under the Duterte administration were submitted for review by a human rights group to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial/Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard.
The cases were submitted a month before May 8, 2017, the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council, a process whereby the human rights record of a country will be examined.
“The victims of killings are peasants, indigenous peoples and workers; many faced harassment and vilification by the military because of their advocacy and actions to defend people’s rights and are thus considered human rights defenders,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, in her letter to Callamard.
International coverage has put a spotlight on Duterte’s brutal anti-drug campaign, prompting global expressions of concern and calls for the Philippine government to respect human rights and due process.
In February, Berehulak’s coverage of the Philippines’ drug war also won First Prize for General News Stories at the World Press Photo Awards 2017.
Despite its consistent objection to international criticism of President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, Malacañang has not protested the decision of the Pulitzer Prize board to recognize Berehulak’s work.
“The Pulitzer Prize Board has its own criteria and selection process and we respect their decision on this matter,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The Western press has been highly critical of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drug traffickers and violators.”
The Palace earlier accused The New York Times of taking part in a “well-funded campaign” and purported demolition job against Duterte, a claim denied by the US-based newspaper.
The 165-year-old publication has already denied the allegation and said there was no ulterior motive in the production of another documentary, “When a President says ‘I’ll kill you,’” which came out in March. With AFP