MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war has caught the attention of US-based publication New York Times, amid calls by the United Nations and the United States government to respect human rights and due process.
On Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial cartoon showing President Rodrigo Duterte holding a shoulder-launched assault weapon, targeting a wormy apple on the head of the man representing the Philippines.
The image, which evokes William Tell's heroic feat of archery, is the latest take of a foreign news organization on the state of the drug war in the Philippines.
In the Washington Post, a piece from Kristine Guerra on Monday said that Duterte’s war on drugs "could be a huge problem" as there have so far been hundreds of drug-related deaths.
This comes two weeks after the Post published an editorial on the alleged killings of death squads in the Philippines. Duterte's "dictator" persona was effective during the campaign, but “a real dictator,” the Post said on August 4, "is hardly what the Philippines needs."
Last week, columnist Maia Szalavitz of VICE questioned why the US is offering funds to "the man waging [the battle against drugs]", as the battle is an "international disgrace…where hundreds of alleged drug users have been shot and killed in recent months.”
Szalavitz said that this is an indication that America remains “accommodating of senseless brutality rationalized as drug policy.”
Despite criticisms and calls from human rights groups for the war to stop and the government to be accountable for extrajudicial killings, the Duterte administration continued to defend its campaign, with the police alleging that the crime rate has gone down since it stepped up efforts crack down on drugs.
All eyes had been on Duterte since the presidential campaign, when news of his joke regarding the rape of an Australian woman made it overseas. While beloved by the masses, he became a sounding board for US politics, with international media comparing him to tough-talking presidential aspirant Donald Trump.
This coverage continued as the president spoke against international bodies such as the United Nations—threatening to pull the country out from the union, and the US—calling out its ambassador to the Philippines for allegedly being a “meddler.”
READ: 'Bwisit ako dyan!' Duterte takes swipe at US envoy
International media are now watching the Philippine Senate probe on the alleged extrajudicial killings.
In his column in the Philippine Star, Roberto Romulo cited other instances of negative stories about the Philippines appearing in international media—The Economist said Duterte is “beyond restraint,” while Channel News Asia recounted the story of one funeral parlor owner, that the number of bodies his outlets across Manila handles has doubled.
The negative stories in media about the Philippines' war on drugs, he said, is because the narrative is not coming from the Philippines, but from abroad.
According to Romulo, Filipinos should "continue to communicate the successes our country is achieving."
If the Philippines does not tell its own story, others will, "and we won’t be happy with the results," he said.