By Genalyn Kabiling
The US documentary probing the President Duterte’s war on drugs is a derogatory and biased work of fiction bordering to black propaganda, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has slammed the documentary titled “On the President’s Orders,” saying it was a malicious attempt to vilify the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“The Palace is vexed by the continuous spread of disinformation against our country’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality. Foreign audiences have been saturated with false and baseless narratives relative to the Philippine government’s anti-narcotics approach, specifically on the nature and number of deaths arising from police operations against it,” he said.
“Based on the trailer of – as well as the commentaries on – the American docufilm, ‘On the President’s Orders,’ it appears that the same is the latest addition to these unmitigated vilifications. Even the title of the docufilm reeks with malice, making it appear that the drug-related deaths were done upon the orders of PRRD,” he said.
The documentary, directed by Emmy-winning filmmakers James Jones and Oliver Sarbil, puts the spotlight on President Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers in the Philippines. The film reportedly shows how law enforcers dressed in civilian clothing kill drug suspects and blame others for the crime.
Panelo also disputed the documentary’s claim that it caught on camera “the victimized slum communities and the police squads blithely executing their countrymen from a perverse moral high ground.”
“We find this derogatory and biased, if not outright fiction,” the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel said.
He accused the filmmakers of riding on the President’s popularity and success and using the documentary “to espouse one-sided information bordering to black propaganda aimed at gullible foreign audiences who know little or zero-knowledge about the Philippines and its government.”
He added that the documentary, including its supposed investigation on the drug-related killings, was “deliberately overdramatized” not only to place the county “in a bad light” but also create a better cinematic experience for its audience.
“In creating a film, it is easy to select fractions of video clips or soundbites that serve the purpose of the filmmakers in falsely portraying a dangerous Philippines and a murderous government while omitting scenes that reflect the opposite,” he said.
“Moviegoers are more inclined to watch a thrilling film that depicts a country as menacing instead of a lackluster motion picture showcasing its progress and development,” he added.
To the potential viewers of the documentary, Panelo urged them to be circumspect in evaluating the truthfulness of the film.
He also defended anew the government’s drug war amid the imminent release of the documentary, saying it was anchored on national security and public safety. At present, he said the illegal drug trade has a billion-peso industry in the Philippines, with 97% of small villages have or had already been infiltrated.
“Three years to the war on drugs and residents in the country now feel safer and secure with 7 out of 10 Filipinos being satisfied with the way President Rodrigo Roa Duterte handles the campaign,” he said.
But Panelo made clear that the drug-related killings were “absolutely not state-initiated nor state-sponsored.”
“These killings result from violent resistance on the part of those sought to be arrested by police agents, proof of which is the death of scores of policemen and serious injuries to hundreds of others. A number of these deaths is also caused by members of the prohibited drug industry who kill each other because of, among others, rivalry, botched deals and swindling,” he said.
He also attested that the President, as a strict enforcer of the law, does not tolerate abusive police officers.
“They are not – and will never be – exempted from administrative sanction and criminal prosecution should there be abuse on their part. As he stated in his first State of the Nation Address, those who abuse their authority will have hell to pay,” he said.