Communications Secretary Martin Andanar spoke to an audience of around 500 high school and college students, government workers, teachers, and barangay officials at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City on Friday, March 24.
What was intended as a roadshow of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for the country's hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit this year, however, turned into foreign-media bashing, as the Palace was still smarting from The New York Times' piece on President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” published on March 21, leads off with: “President Rodrigo Duterte relishes the image of killer-savior. He boasts of killing criminals with his own hand. On occasion, he calls for mass murder.”
Andanar said, amid the President's many plans for the nation’s development, there are those who are “making a noise” to destabilize the government, and ignore Duterte's achievements.
“They only report the lies. We call that fake news,” he said. “Like Richard Paddock of the New York Times. He wrote something about the President. It’s obvious that he wrote it just to throw negativity against the President.”
Andanar said the job of his office, the PCOO, is to combat fake news. “We all know that the report of Western media is not true. They reported that 7,000 people were victims of extrajudicial killings, but they, Philippine National Police, reported only 2,000.” (READ: In Numbers: The Philippines' war on drugs)
Andanar then asked the audience:
“Who would you believe, the Philippine National Police or the Western media? A or B?”
He said the problem with Western media is they are not open to the change that Duterte is doing.
He turned to the crowd again:
The NYT article says: “As mayor of Davao City, he was known to help people in need by digging into his pocket and handing them a wad of cash. To many, his vulgar jokes only burnish his bona fides as a man of the people. When he appears in public, he is swarmed by adoring fans.”
It adds: “Still, the bodies have been piling up. Since Mr Duterte took office last June and declared a ‘war’ on drugs, the police and unknown assassins have killed more than 3,600 people, the police say, mostly in the slums of Philippine cities. Some put the toll at more than 7,000.”
Andanar told his audience: “We have to stand up for ourselves...without interference from other countries.” He cited the European Union's call for the release of opposition Senator Leila de Lima as an example of foreigners meddling with the country's affairs.
“We have our own problem, they have theirs. They should mind their own business before minding other people’s business,” Andanar said.
On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella also criticized the New York Times article: "The NYT cynically and unfairly narrates the President’s rise to power in the context of violence. It deliberately fails to mention the many initiatives the President made when he was Davao City mayor."
He continued: "One gets the feeling NYT is not interested in presenting the whole truth, only that with which they can bully those who attempt an independent foreign policy." – Rappler.com