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GIJN hails 2 Rappler stories among SEA’s best investigative pieces in 2023

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GIJN hails 2 Rappler stories among SEA’s best investigative pieces in 2023
The Global Investigative Journalism Network recognizes Rappler’s diplomatic immunity and impunity series and a digital investigation on pro-China disinformation operations in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Two Rappler investigative stories were recognized among the Global Investigative Journalism Network’s (GIJN) Best Investigative Stories from Southeast Asia in 2023.

On Thursday, December 21, GIJN included in its list Rappler’s Diplomatic Immunity and Impunity series, as well as an investigative piece on pro-China disinformation operations in the Philippines.

The Diplomatic Immunity and Impunity series is a data-driven, cross-border investigation uncovering how erring diplomats have been able to exploit their migrant domestic workers and have gotten away with it for decades, owing to a privilege called diplomatic immunity.

Because of this privilege, it is difficult for workers to seek legal remedies. And even when the diplomats were charged and courts ruled in favor of the workers, nongovernmental organizations have noted that enforcing judgments remained difficult.

With most of the exploited domestic workers uncovered as women from developing countries, Rappler further explored what happens after rescue. Years after escaping, justice was still elusive for the workers – especially for one who had over €80,000 in stolen and unpaid wages.

The four-part series was written by journalist Ana P. Santos, Rappler multimedia reporter Michelle Abad, and Rappler digital forensics specialist Pauline Macaraeg. 

Journalismfund Europe and the Pulitzer Center supported the reporting for the series.

Diplomatic immunity and impunity – a Rappler series

Diplomatic immunity and impunity – a Rappler series

Macaraeg also wrote the other recognized piece, “How pro-China propaganda is seeded online in the Philippines.” The in-depth report explored how pro-China sentiments were spread online in the wake of Chinese Coast Guard aggression against Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea.

The investigation stems from the August 5 incident of the Chinese Coast Guard blasting its water cannons at two Philippine ships in a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at Ayungin Shoal. 

Nationalist comments may be expected from Filipinos following such an incident, but instead, there was rampant criticism of the Philippine Coast Guard’s condemnation of the harassment, and the championing of Beijing.

The investigation discovered that a pro-China community on Facebook has been spreading propaganda and disinformation to support China for years, and it was formed during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

How pro-China propaganda is seeded online in the Philippines

How pro-China propaganda is seeded online in the Philippines

Other stories the GIJN recognized from Southeast Asia include pieces on the procurement and use of espionage tools in Indonesia, how illegal timber in Cambodia is used to sustain top fashion brands, and cyber attacks launched by the Burmese military junta against female pro-democracy activists, among others.

“The stories featured reveal the commitment and tenacity of journalists to continue exposing crime and wrongdoing, often thanks to the use of digital investigative tools,” the GIJN said. –

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