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Palace: Docu on PHL drug war biased, ‘bordering on black propaganda’

Malacañang on Tuesday slammed a foreign documentary on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, accusing it of dishing out false narratives and putting the Philippines in a bad light.

"On the President's Orders,” a British-American production from US investigative journalism program Frontline PBS, tackles the “victimized slum communities and the police squads blithely executing their countrymen from a perverse moral high ground,” according to a description on the documentary’s website.


Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo took exception to the documentary, calling it “derogatory and biased, if not outright fiction.”

“The Palace is vexed by the continuous spread of disinformation against our country’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality,” Panelo said.

“It is obvious that the film medium is riding on the coattails of the President's international popularity and success, and is being used as a medium to espouse a one-sided information bordering [on] black propaganda aimed at gullible foreign audiences who know little or [have] zero knowledge about the Philippines and its government,” he added.

Panelo claimed it was easy to choose 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 were more inclined to watch a “thrilling film that depicts a country as menacing instead of a lackluster motion picture showcasing its progress and development.”

“Even the title of the docufilm reeks with malice, making it appear that the drug-related deaths were done upon the orders of President Duterte,” he said.

“The docufilm, together with its so-called cinematic investigation on drug-related deaths, evidently has been deliberately overdramatized for the purpose, apart from putting the Philippines in a bad light, of creating a better cinematic experience for its audience,” Panelo said.

He cautioned its potential viewers to be “circumspect in evaluating the truthfulness of the film.”

Saying that Duterte's war on drugs is anchored primarily on national security and public safety, Panelo declared that the drug-related killings—which have reached into  the thousands, even by government estimates, since Duterte took office—were not state-initiated or state-sponsored.

He said the killings were either a result of violent resistance on the part of those sought to be arrested by policemen or caused by members of the illegal drug industry “who kill each other because of, among others, rivalry, botched deals and swindling.”

Panelo also maintained that Duterte does not tolerate abusive police officers.

“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 Duterte handles the campaign,” he said. — BM, GMA News