Due to the coronavirus, the Philippine government imposed community quarantines. Violators of such lockdowns faced arrest and jail time.
This story collated and analyzed daily reports of the lockdown implementers, and found that there are more arrests than inquests per day, such that 3 months since the start of the lockdown, over 2,600 alleged quarantine violators were still detained even though the offense was bailable.
The project prompted the Supreme Court to review the delays in freeing quarantine violators. After the Supreme Court’s pronouncement, the interior department – which handles the police force and detention facilities – committed that they will comply with the orders of the court.
From 1,728 Filipinos still detained on October 21, 2020, when the Supreme Court committed a review, the number of detainees was drastically cut to just 363 on November 14, 2020, the lowest number ever.
The data were processed in Microsoft Excel, then visualized through Datawrapper.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Nearly 200 reports from the police were collated and analyzed by manually inputting numbers into an Excel sheet, and selecting relevant portions to process the needed data. After an analysis was made, the author came to government officials with the findings, seeking to get an explanation.
However, these efforts were futile in the many months of back-and-forth until the Supreme Court Chief Justice held a rare press conference where the findings were made known to him, resulting finally in an action.
What can others learn from this project?
The Philippine government releases so many reports about the coronavirus pandemic. Journalists should go beyond the face value of those reports, because data given away subtly in these bulk reports can yield information that reflects a reality they would otherwise want undisclosed.