Palace decries demolition job by The New York Times
Malacañang on Monday slammed The New York Times (NYT) for doing a demolition job on President Duterte.
In just one week, according to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the Times published a psychological profile of Mr. Duterte tracing his rise to power through violence, an editorial demanding accountability for the thousands of extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, and released a video documentary showing the bodies of the victims of the antinarcotics crackdown and their grief-stricken families.
Abella was referring to the article “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” published on Thursday; the editorial “Accountability for Duterte,” published on Saturday, and the video documentary “When a President Says, ‘I’ll Kill You,’” released on Monday.
“NYT’s very obvious demolition work flies in the face of the very high approval the President enjoys,” Abella said.
Stirring global outrage
The Times, he said, “tries to stir global outrage in a nation that welcomes its newfound peace and order.”
Some groups have estimated that more than 8,000 people, mostly poor, small-time drug users, have been killed since Mr. Duterte launched his war on drugs after taking office in June last year.
The Times editorial blames the killings on “the police and vigilantes” and says Mr. Duterte “relishes his image as a defiant crusader, willing to encourage the slaughter of thousands in the name of saving his nation from the scourge of drugs.”
“The man is impervious to moral criticism, but he may not be immune forever from legal action,” the Times said, citing an impeachment complaint filed in the House of Representatives by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and the plan by Josue Sabio, a lawyer for two confessed hit men who said they belonged to a liquidation squad operated by Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, to bring a case against the President in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Free De Lima
The editorial also cited the persecution of the highest-profile critic of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, Sen. Leila de Lima, who was arrested last month on “spurious charges that she took bribes from drug traffickers.”
The Times called for the immediate release of De Lima and the dropping of all politically motivated charges against her.
“A more consequential action could be one threatened by the European Union (EU),” the Times said. “Outraged by Mr. Duterte’s behavior, as well as his government’s possible reinstatement of the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal prosecution to 9, the EU has proposed hitting his government where it may hurt the most—by imposing tariffs on Philippine goods. Other democratic trading partners should do the same.”
Abella blamed the Times series on “certain personalities and politicians” who he believed had mounted a “well-funded campaign” using “hack[s] and their ilk” in a bid to oust Mr. Duterte.
“However, the administration will not be deterred in fulfilling its promise of building a progressive and inclusive nation free from drugs, crime and corruption,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO
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