Palace furious over ‘false’ film on anti-drugs war

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    MALACAÑANG yesterday fumed over what it slammed as a “false and baseless narrative” of the Philippine government’s war against illegal drugs as depicted by the allegedly “derogatory and biased” American documentary, “On the President’s Orders.”

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the Palace is “vexed by the continuous spread of disinformation against our country’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.”

    “On the President’s Orders” is produced by award-winning British filmmaker and producer James Jones and directed by French director and cinematographer Olivier Sarbil.

    The documentary film will debut in the United States through the Cinema Village in New York on October 4 and the Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on October 18.

    It will also be aired by the PBS Broadcast in other parts of the United States later in October, while a special press preview has been set in Los Angeles on September 24.

    It had also been included as an official selection in the 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest in United Kingdom; the 2019 Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, Canada; the 2019 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York; and the 2019 Copenhagen International Documentary Festival  in Copenhagen, Denmark .
    Panelo said the documentary film deliberately “overdramatized” the drug-related deaths to create a better cinematic experience for its audience.

    “We caution its potential viewers to be circumspect in evaluating the truthfulness of the film,” he said, as he complained that the film placed the country in a bad light and portrayed it as a “dangerous Philippines and a murderous government.”

    “We find this derogatory and biased, if not outright fiction. It is obvious that the film medium is riding on the coattails of the President’s international popularity and success, and is being used as a medium to espouse a one-sided information bordering to black propaganda aimed at gullible foreign audiences who know little or zero-knowledge about the Philippines and its government,” Panelo said.

    “Moviegoers are more inclined to watch a thrilling film that depicts a country as menacing instead of a lackluster motion picture showcasing its progress and development,” he added.

    Panelo lamented foreign audiences have already been saturated with “false and baseless narratives” about the government’s anti-narcotics campaign, specifically about the number of deaths arising from police operations against illegal drugs.

    “For everyone’s information, especially for those who do not reside in the Philippines, drug-related killings are absolutely not state-initiated or state-sponsored. These killings result from violent resistance on the part of those sought to be arrested by police agents, proof of which is the death of scores of policemen and serious injuries to hundreds of others,” he said.

    He said some of these deaths are committed by those involved in the illegal drug industry “who kill each other because of, among others, rivalry, botched deals and swindling”.

    “The President, as strict enforcer of the law, does not tolerate abusive police officers. They are not – and will never be – exempted from administrative sanction and criminal prosecution should there be an abuse on their part. As he stated in his first State of the Nation Address, those who abuse their authority will have hell to pay,” he said adding that the government’s campaign is anchored primarily on national security and public safety.

    The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) records show that since the Duterte war on drugs started in 2016 until June 30 this year, 5,526 people have already been killed in anti-drug operations.