MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Wednesday slammed the New York Times for its piece detailing the life of President Rodrigo Duterte and his beginnings as mayor of Davao City.
The New York Times piece, titled “Becoming Duterte: The Making
of a Philippine Strongman”, narrated the life of Duterte as a young man and Davao City mayor before he became the Philippines’ most powerful.
“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,” the lead of the piece, written by Richard Paddock, reads.
The piece did not sit well Abella, who said the article “sounds like a well-paid hack job for well-heeled clients with shady motives.”
“NYT cynically and unfairly narrates the President’s rise to power in the context of violence,” Abella said.
“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.”
The New York Times piece cited controversial yet unconfirmed reports involving Duterte, such as “throwing a drug lord from a helicopter and forcing a tourist who violated a smoking ban to eat his cigarette butt at gunpoint.”
“It is a thuggish image that Mr. Duterte embraces,” the article reads.
The article also sought to establish the less-than-conventional childhood of Duterte.
“Violence in the house, violence in the school and violence in the neighborhood,” Duterte’s brother Emmanuel told the New York Times. “That is why he is always angry. Because if you have pain when you are young, you are angry all the time.”
While the piece delved on Duterte’s reputation as a tough leader, it also noted that Filipino president appears to be a “man of contradictions,” citing interviews from people close to the president who said the latter is known for being “compassionate”, “charming”, and “engaging.”
According to the New York Times, Duterte declined to be interviewed for the article.