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Panelo hits ‘rumor-mongering’ Washington Post for story on Duterte-Trump conversation

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo branded as "rumor-mongering" and "political propaganda" the October 5 article published by the Washington Post detailing President Donald Trump's phone calls two years ago to several world leaders, including President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he purportedly praised for the latter's drug war.

In the April 2017 conversation, Trump supposedly told Duterte that he was doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem," which according to the story left some aides "genuinely horrified." 

In a statement, Panelo said the Office of the President does not deny the existence of such telephone conversation between Duterte and Trump.

However, Panelo said the artcile borders on "rumor-mongering," citing that the story was based on interviews with 12 former or current Trump officials who all  spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"The fact that President Trump's private conversations with world leaders are leaked freely to the press by unnamed sources is simply outlandish," he said.

"To headline it as 'genuinely horrified' shows strong negative bias against the American President, as well as those personalities involved in the article. It violates the objectivity principle we expect from high-caliber journalists of The Washington Post," he added.

According to Panelo, the anonymous staff interviewed by Washington Post was "in the dark exhibiting his zero inside knowledge" on the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

"The staff was blissfully ignorant about pertinent facts surrounding this administration's campaign against illegal narcotics; hence, the reaction, if true, is not surprising," he said.

Panelo added that Trump's praise for the Duterte administration's anti-drug policy and action showed the American leader's "fair judgment coming from his unlimited and unimpeded access to information."

"The Washington Post's slogan is 'Democracy Dies in Darkness' - very apt in relation to the newspaper because it died in darkness when the prestigious publication engaged itself in political propaganda," he said. —Virgil Lopez/LDF, GMA News