Duterte snatches OCCRP’s Person of the Year for 2017

By , on December 28, 2017

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte convenes with some members of his cabinet and local government officials to discuss the extent of the Typhoon Urduja's damage as well as the response and relief efforts on the typhoon-stricken areas at the Naval State University in Naval, Biliran Province on December 18, 2017. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
FILE: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Photo by ROBINSON NIÑAL JR.via PCOO)

The President has earned a title for this year due to his locally and internationally known campaign to eradicate illegal drugs.

Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a non-profit organization and investigative reporting platform that has recognized individuals who influenced the advancement of “organized criminal activity and corruption” for six years, dropped President Rodrigo Duterte’s name as its Person of the Year for 2017 on Thursday.

“Duterte has made a mockery of rule of law in his country,” Drew Sullivan, OCCRP Editor and one of the nine judges for selection said.

“While he is not your typical corrupt leader, he has empowered corruption in an innovative way. His death squads have allegedly focused on criminals but, in fact, are less discriminating. He has empowered a bully-run system of survival of the fiercest. In the end, the Philippines are more corrupt, more cruel, less democratic,” Sullivan further said.

OCCRP cited Duterte’s words from a press conference in late September last year, in which he was quoted as saying, “[Adolf] Hitler massacred three million Jews. There are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least, if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have you know,” then pointed at himself.

“Philippine officials put the real number of drug user at 1.8 million, but Duterte has overseen the killing of more than 7,000 and possibly as many as 12,000. The statistics are hard to pin down because Duterte’s National Police suppress all critical reports. And police are spared from any accountability or legal consequences for a campaign that has left bodies in the streets,” the statement read.

The Philippine President beat out two African leaders namely, South African President Jacob Zuma, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

This was not the first time for Duterte’s name to appear in OCCRP’s nominees, as he was a runner-up to Nicolas Maduro, who was the Person of the Year last year.

OCCRP is an organization found in 2006 that describes itself as an organization that does not belong to any country, political philosophy or set of beliefs, but is committed to helping the people understand how organized crime and corruption resides in their countries and governments.

The judges for this year are as follows:

  • Luis Manuel Botello, a deputy vice president of new initiatives and impact for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists based in Washington.
  • Ying Chan, a writer, educator, and journalism professor, is the founding director of The University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center.
  • Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and lecturer at the Department of Security Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague.
  • Pavla Holcova, founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Reporting and former board member of OCCRP.
  • Khadija Sharife, an investigative journalist, researcher and the Africa editor at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project based in South Africa. She is a lawyer by training and an author.
  • Paul Radu, award-winning cross-border investigative reporter, co-founder, and director of the OCCRP and a founder of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism.
  • Rana Sabbagh, executive director of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism.
  • Louise Shelley, author and endowed professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She is the founder and executive director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center and an authority on terrorism, transnational crime and corruption.
  • Drew Sullivan, investigative journalist, and media development specialist, founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia and co-founder and editor of OCCRP.