Malacanang reacts to ‘serial killer president’ branding of Duterte by French newspaper

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella (photo:

By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent

“What I can say is that, I think it’s irresponsible. It’s irresponsible the way they have said it and the way they carelessly used these words and their media power to think (of) the Philippines in such a way. The best way I can say it is, it’s irresponsible,” Abella said.

Despite his volatile rhetoric, Abella said Duterte has always underscored that all government initiatives must follow the rule of law, even in problems as “drastic” as the drug scourge which has grown into a multi-million-peso industry affecting over 40,000 barangays.

“Well, in fact, 97% of the barangay has actually been affected. Ninety-seven percent of barangays, can you imagine that? (There are) 45,000 barangays all over the Philippines. So, He has always said that everything must be done with regularity and within the bounds of law,” he said.

For the longest time, he said the drug problem was not given attention, emphasis.

“Now, it has grown so much so that drastic measures have to be taken for drastic situations. But we appreciate the President, he always says, despite his colorful language, that in practice, everything has to be done with regularity,” said Abella.

The Liberation, a newspaper in France, published a banner story about Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign that has left over 3,000 people dead.

Written by Arnaud Vaulerin, the four-page article also touched on Duterte’s expletive-laced tirades against U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, his comments referencing the mass murder of Jews under Adolf Hitler’s command and his alleged ties to a hit squad in Davao City.

Abella, however, argued that the true state of the country is not reflected by foreign news reports, but by the public’s confidence in Duterte.

“The best picture, the best mirror of what’s happening in the Philippines, is the public, the citizens who are affected. So far, the response that we see, (is that) they have a very high appreciation of what the President is doing,” he said.

He said Duterte has earned a net satisfaction rating of +64 or “very good” despite the controversies marring his three months in office, according to a recent survey.

Abella also downplayed the deaths in Duterte’s war on drugs.

“We must see the big picture here. We must see the sentiments of the President. Where (is) he com(ing from)? Maybe not many Filipinos (have) seen how deep (is) the problem (of) illegal drug problem,”Abella said..

Interior Secretary Mike Sueno branded “very unfair” the serial killer tag against Duterte.

“President Duterte doesn’t do this, we will become a narco-state. In our point of view, there are no extra-judicial killings here because most of those who die are those who fight the police,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also echoed the stand of Sueno and added that the branding of Duterte was an exaggeration.

“I think the description as serial killer was exaggerated. For me, that’s exaggerated,” said Lacson. He surmised the comment of the French newspaper was not from a direct or personal knowledge of the source.

“I think it’s unfair to tag our president as a serial killer….. It’s not good to hear that our president is being accused as serial killer just because 3,000 suspected drug pushers were killed so far,” said Lacson.

“They should follow the Philippine media, before (they) make unfair headlines we have investigated,” he said.

Still, he acknowledged that the President getting bad press in foreign media is beyond our control.

The Liberation was among the latest foreign media that reported on the Duterte administration’s antinarcotics campaign, which continue to draw international attention amid criticisms of suspected extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses.

International publications like The Guardian, TIME, The New York Times, and the Washington Post previously featured different aspects of the war on drugs.

Duterte and his men have repeatedly criticized the foreign media for supposedly spinning his statements.