US Library of Congress archives podcast series on Duterte's war on drugs


Posted at Nov 03 2020 08:26 PM


MANILA - A podcast series on the controversial anti-narcotics campaign of the Duterte administration has been archived by the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC), the audio documentary producer of the series said recently.

Tokhang sa Tokhang”, a 6-part audio documentary, is the first Philippine-made podcast, as well as the first from Asia, to be included in the US LOC's Podcast Preservation Project, said journalist Roby Alampay, founder and CEO of PumaPodcast.

Aside from its “Tokhang sa Tokhang” series, the LOC's Podcast Preservation Project will also archive PumaPodcast’s “COVID Diaries” series and its general feed of news and explainer podcasts.

In its letter to Puma Podcast Productions, the manager of the LOC’s Podcast Preservation Project said their works were considered “to be an important part of the cultural and historical record.”

The preservation project, which was officially launched only early this year, started reaching out to podcast producers last year. 

“The project's managers affirmed that PumaPodcast's projects are the first out of Asia to be included in their curated content,” Alampay said. 

He said that being archived in the LOC is consistent with PumaPodcast’s vision statement, “A World That Listens”.

“The Podcast Preservation Project affirms what keeps us going,” he said.

“As a podcaster, you just want to be heard. As a person, you just want to be heard. We are grateful that, even as the podcasting community is still nascent in our country and region, there are people who understand and share our value for listening,” Alampay said. 

The audio documentary, which has been streaming since August on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Anchor and Stitcher, tackles the deadly war on drugs implemented by President Duterte after assuming office in 2016. It carries “conversations with drug users, police, drug enforcement officials, journalists, legislators, researchers, widows, families orphaned by killing related to the anti-drug operations, and even artists and musicians,” according to the producer. 

Even before he was elected to the presidency, Duterte had vowed to be harsh against illegal drugs personalities, repeatedly threatening to kill them, according to him, to spare the country from destruction. But several sectors and personalities, both foreign and local, have raised alarm over the campaign’s alleged human rights violations. 

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The government says that 5,856 people died during anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 until Aug. 31 this year. Human rights groups say, however, that thousands more were killed in alleged extrajudicial killings.

Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Catalino Uy recently said the aggressive campaign has led to a decline in estimated drug users in the country, from around 4 million at the start of the Duterte administration, to 1.67 million, as of February this year, based on a survey.

The government also said 256,788 individuals were arrested due to illegal drugs from July 1, 2016 up to Aug. 31 this year.

PumaPodcast said “Tokhang sa Tokhang” aims for a “deep and holistic review of the War on Drugs’ impact on Philippine society and the Filipino psyche.”

Its inclusion in the LOC’s Podcast Preservation Project makes the documentary “available to researchers and policymakers onsite at the offline research facilities” of the library, and “will ultimately be made available for direct download through the LOC’s online platforms,” PumaPodcast said.