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Palace denounces Netflix satire show for ‘demonizing’ Duterte

MOCKINGMONOLOGUE “Patriot Act” hostHasan Minhaj —AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has cried foul over a political satire show on Netflix that criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar accusing comedian Hasan Minhaj, host of  “Patriot Act,” of being “gullible” and of “parroting” padded figures and stories.

Andanar also assailed the President’s critics for supposedly using the show to “demonize” him.

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In the episode aired on May 12, Minhaj said the death toll in the war on drugs could be as high as 27,000, and that the more bodies that fell in the campaign, the higher Mr. Duterte’s approval ratings rose.

And yet, Minhaj said, the flow of illegal drugs into the Philippines had yet to stop because the war on drugs was not dealing with the root of the problem, which was poverty.

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He also mocked the President for endorsing the Senate candidacies of Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the former Philippine National Police chief, whom he described as the architect of the antidrug campaign; Imee Marcos, who he noted was the daughter of the late dictator who stole billions of dollars from Philippine coffers; and Mr. Duterte’s former aide Bong Go, who he said was known as the “national photobomber.”

Inaccurate

Andanar said Minhaj’s monologue was full of inaccuracies.

“Mr. Hasan Minhaj, an American comedian and host, maliciously implied that President Duterte is an ‘autocrat’ who ‘every so often goes on a killing spree.’ He cited an exaggerated figure — 27,000, which is way higher than the official figure — to besmirch the government’s campaign against illegal drugs,” Andanar said in a statement.

He said the official number of those killed in police antidrug operations was 5,050 as of November 2018. There was also “a large number of deaths” at the hands of vigilantes because of rivalry between drug gangs, he said, adding that the number of those arrested was 164,265.

“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 [that he would] unwittingly parrot these falsehoods to an audience unaware of the real score in the Philippines,” Andanar said.

According to Andanar, six out of 10 Filipinos say drug users have decreased in their areas, which means the campaign has been effective.

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Critics used show

Another seven out of 10 believe the administration is serious in solving the killings, he claimed.

He also said the Duterte administration had launched rehabilitation programs from where more than 300,000 drug users had graduated, and had also been addressing poverty, as shown in the lessened incidence of hunger and adult joblessness among Filipino families.

Desperate

Andanar slammed the President’s critics for purportedly using Minhaj’s show against the administration.

“We find it desperate that, on the eve of the Philippine midterm elections, the vociferous detractors of [the President] 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,” he said.

He also said  the administration senatorial candidates’ making it to the winning circle, as shown in the preliminary election results, “proves that the voting population continues to believe in the genuine reforms advocated by the candidates endorsed by [the President].”

Andanar defended the President’s endorsement of certain senatorial candidates, saying it was still the people who would make the final decision in the elections.

“The Philippines, like the US, 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,” he said.

He also said the cases against the President’s critics, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, had nothing to do with their politics.

Minhaj named the two women as among those who were standing up to the President.

But according to Andanar, “both personalities violated domestic laws, with Ms Ressa committing tax evasion, breach of antidummy laws and violation of cyberlaws; and Senator De Lima transgressing antidrug laws.”

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