SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jubilation swept the newsroom at the San Jose Mercury News Thursday with the announcement that the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for a 1985 series on corruption in the Philippines.
'We all were standing around for about a half an hour, completely mute before we heard the announcement,' said Katherine Ellison, one of the three reporters who worked on the Philippines project.
'When it finally came up everybody just went nuts and poured champagne over everybody's head. It was great, it was everything that you would want it to be.'
Pete Carey, another reporter involved in the investigation, said the prize was a credit to the newspaper and to 'outstanding editing.'
The newspaper's three-part series, 'Hidden Billions: The Draining of the Philippines,' documented extensive capital transfers from that country by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his associates.
The Pulitzer Prize panel, mindful of Marcos' ouster and his replacement by Corazon Aquino, the wife of assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino, said the series 'had a direct impact on subsequent political developments in the Philippines and the United States.'
The series was reported by Ellison, Carey and Tokyo-based correspondent Lewis M. Simons, who all worked for six months on the investigation under the direction of Assistant National Editor Jonathan Krim.
'The three did an extraordinary investigative job,' said Mercury News Executive Editor Robert D. Ingle. 'At every turn people said they would never get the story but they did anyway.'
Ingle said the three reporters managed to prove that 'the rumors that had been around for years had been true. The real winners are the people of the Philippines and the taxpayers.'
He recalled that a pro-Marcos publication, 'in trying to put out fires' sparked by the 'Hidden Billions' series, described San Jose Mercury News as 'a paper of minor reputation in Northern California.'
The award marked the first time the Mercury News has received a Pulitzer Prize.
The 'Hidden Billions' series found that:
-- As much as $30 billion left the Philippines since the 1950s, with millions used for investment in the Unted States.
-- The Philippines' top political and business leaders participated in this capital flight.
-- Many of the resulting investments are cloaked in secrecy, with the principals using offshore corporations or surrogates to hide their ownership.
-- Key American conduits frequently are used to facilitate transactions or represent Filipino investors.
The series also reported that U.S. officials were worried that continued capital flight could lead to further unrest in the Philippines.