MALACAÑANG on Wednesday, May 15, lashed out at President Rodrigo Duterte's opponents who have allegedly raised the level of their way of "demonizing" him by propagating "falsehoods" through a political satire show on Netflix.
American comedian Hasan Minhaj, in a new episode of "Patriot Act" that was streamed on American entertainment services provider Netflix on May 12, focused on several pressing issues concerning the Philippines under Duterte's leadership.
Minhaj touched on Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, shared his thoughts on the 2019 midterm elections and some administration-backed senatorial candidates, and even talked about the President's critics like detained Senator Leila de Lima and Rappler chief Maria Ressa.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar lamented that Minhaj, in his latest Netflix show, "maliciously" implied that Duterte is an “autocrat” who “every so often goes on a killing spree.”
The Communications chief also vented frustration over the "exaggerated" drug war death toll cited by Minhaj.
"Based on our Real Numbers PH program where we carefully extract and verify data from government agencies, there are about 5,050 drug personalities who died during the 115,435 anti-drug operations from July 2016 to November 2018," he said.
"He (Minhaj) cited an exaggerated figure -- 27,000, which is way higher than the official figure – to besmirch the government’s campaign against illegal drugs," he added.
Andanar then lectured the American comedian that a large number of drug-related deaths "were done by the hands of vigilantes due to the rivalry between drug gangs," as reported by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
He also stressed that aside from law enforcement, the Duterte government also has rehabilitation programs for drug offenders who surrender to authorities.
"Since President Rodrigo Roa Duterte assumed, there are about 303,533 individuals who graduated from these rehabilitation programs," Andanar said.
He likewise told Minhaj that Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign was "effective," citing that six of 10 Filipinos believed the number of drug users have decreased.
Citing public confidence in the drug war, Andanar also cited that seven of 10 Filipinos were convinced that the current administration is serious in solving the killings in the Philippines.
Andanar pointed to poverty as the root cause of the drug war, but pledged that the Duterte administration remains committed to "bringing comfortable lives for all."
"The latest survey shows that hunger incidence among Filipino families decreased to 9.5 percent while adult joblessness dropped to 19.7 percent," he said.
Andanar hit Minhaj for finding fault with the President’s endorsement of certain personalities for the Senate.
The Palace official noted that the Philippines, like the United States, is "a country where democracy is vibrant and the will of the people reigns supreme."
"Ultimately, it is the Filipino people who will choose their own set of leaders and we simply have to respect the results of the elections," Andanar said.
The Palace official was also surprised that Minhaj heaped praises on De Lima and Ressa for “standing up against Duterte.”
Andanar said the American comedian should understand that De Lima and Ressa's cases underwent legal processes and their politics, or opposition to President Duterte, "has nothing to do with the charges that they are now facing."
"Both personalities violated domestic laws with Ms. Ressa committing tax evasion, breach of anti-dummy laws, and violation of cyber laws; and Senator De Lima transgressing anti-drug laws," he said.
Andanr said it was apparent that Duterte's enemies are becoming "desperate" by using Minhaj in spreading "erroneous narratives" against the President.
"We find it desperate that, on the eve of the Philippine midterm elections, the vociferous detractors of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would use an American comedy show, aired on Netflix, to demonize the Chief Executive and his government in its episode entitled 'Brazil, Corruption and the Rainforest' before the global audience," Andanar said.
"We express outrage that such erroneous narratives, obviously peddled by anti-Duterte haters and trolls, would find their way to the gullible TV host and his comedy show and unwittingly parrot these falsehoods to an audience unaware of the real score in the Philippines," he added.
Andanar expressed hope that the public would heed the President's call to dismiss black propaganda against the administration amid the midterm elections.
"The President called on the public to vote for those who support his measures to uplift people from poverty and have a stable, comfortable, and peaceful life that they deserve," he said.
"The preliminary results of the nationwide polls affirmed that the public indeed heeded the President’s call. This proves that the voting population continues to believe in the genuine reforms advocated by the candidates endorsed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," Andanar added, referring to the partial results of the senatorial race which shows the candidates endorsed by the President dominating the top 12 slots. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)