THE PHILIPPINES’ top diplomat on Wednesday slammed an episode of British broadcasting network BBC’s Our World, which tackled the state of the country’s democracy under President Rodrigo R. Duterte, calling the program an “anti-Duterte propaganda.”
“The documentary… amounts to nothing more than anti-Duterte propaganda, more worthy of tabloid journalism and gossip than the venerable institution that we thought BBC was,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement.
“The episode misleads viewers about President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s anti-illegal drug strategy, which is actually making Philippine society safer, healthier, and more prosperous for the Filipino people. It fails to mention that the strategy is a diversified and community-based approach that includes enforcement, rehabilitation, and reintegration,” he added.
The BBC report, titled “Philippines: Democracy in Danger?,” featured how the administration has been carrying out its illegal drug campaign, the alleged harassment of opposition personalities, and the perceived similarities of Mr. Duterte with the leadership style of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Mr. Cayetano said the BBC episode did not take into consideration the efforts made by the Duterte administration to address police officials and other government personnel involved in the illegal drug trade.
He then cited that the Philippine government has arrested 576 government workers while 498 are being investigated for drug-related cases. Some 105 uniformed personnel have been dismissed for drug-offenses.
He also noted that 235 drug dens and laboratories were dismantled, P24.12 billion worth of illegal drugs were seized, and 8,444 barangays were cleared of illegal drugs since Mr. Duterte took office.
Mr. Cayetano also called the report “one-sided” on the issue of press freedom and the cases of the administration’s critics such as the ouster of former Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno as well Senators Leila M. De Lima and Antonio F. Trillanes IV who are facing legal battles.
“It overlooks the fact that all three have been given and continue to be given their day in court. The rule of law has been upheld in all three cases… Freedom of the press is important to the health of any democracy,” he said.
The Foreign Affairs secretary called on the BBC to «present an accurate and balanced view» of the situation in the Philippines so its audience can assess the health of the Philippines’ democracy.
“More importantly, we believe that by doing so, BBC will be able to regain the trust of its audience in its journalistic professionalism and repair the damage it has inflicted on the Philippines and the Filipino people as a result of this one-sided documentary,” he said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo