MANILA, Philippines – The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) chose the investigative stories of Rappler lead researcher Gemma B. Mendoza and columnist Ana P. Santos as among its best from Southeast Asia for 2022.
Announced on the GIJN’s website on Thursday, January 5, the picks highlight top investigative stories from the region, with topics ranging from “digital attacks on the media to cybercrime slavery.”
Journalists in the region were able to come up with stories that aim to uncover truths amid all the pressure exerted on them. This is also despite the overall low rankings for Southeast Asian countries in the 2022 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.
Mendoza’s investigative piece traces IP addresses of backlinks, or redirects from one site to another, that causes stories from major media outlets in the Philippines to appear less frequently in search results due to these links being flagged as spam.
The article was able to trace the spamming from a Swedish IP to a service that charges thousands of pesos to add these unwanted backlinks. What would normally be beneficial for presence in search engines turns detrimental due to the spam nature of the links.
Filipino truckers exploited
Santos’ investigative work showed how the shortage of truck drivers in Europe caused Filipinos to be exploited in near-inhumane conditions. Due to the nature of human trafficking laws in Europe, their case against their employer was dismissed in court.
These drivers, who chose to take these jobs in hopes of better providing for their families, have now returned home in the middle of a global pandemic. Without the security of a job in Europe, they returned to the Philippines, where they could at least be with their families.
Other top investigative picks
- Tentacles of the Nickel Mines, Tempo (Indonesia)
- How Indonesian Villagers Lost Out on the Palm Oil Boom, Mongabay, The Gecko Project, and BBC (Indonesia)
- Unrecorded Forest Loss in Peninsular Malaysia, Al Jazeera and Macaranga (Malaysia)
- Forced to Scam: Cambodia’s Cyber Slaves, Al Jazeera (Cambodia)
- Football Disaster, Narasi (Indonesia)
- Impact of the Myanmar Coup on Natural Resources, Yale Environment 360 and Frontier (Myanmar)