MANILA- Malacañang slammed Tuesday the upcoming US premiere of a documentary film that tackles President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody campaign against illegal drugs, and warned those planning to watch to be circumspect in reviewing the film.
Produced by award-winning filmmakers James Jones and Olivier Sarbil, "On The President's Orders," is billed as an on-the-ground look at President Duterte's deadly campaign against drug dealers and users.
The Palace, through Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo, criticized the documentary film as "overdramatized" and filled with "unmitigated vilifications" as it explained that illegal drugs is a billion-peso industry in the Philippines.
"The docufilm, together with its so-called cinematic investigation on drug-related deaths, evidently has been deliberately overdramatized for the purpose, apart from putting the Philippines in a bad light, of creating a better cinematic experience for its audience," Panelo said in a statement.
"The Palace is vexed by the continuous spread of disinformation against our country’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality," he said.
Panelo also claimed that the docufilm "reeks with malice," and makes it appear that deaths under the Philippine drug war were ordered by President Duterte.
Duterte has gained international prominence and courted controversy over his fierce campaign against illegal drugs, a campaign promise that won him the presidential seat in 2016.
Halfway through his term and despite criticism of his drug war, Duterte, however, continues to enjoy the support of many Filipinos as seen in polls.
NO STATE-SPONSORED KILLINGS
In light of the upcoming premiere of the docufilm, Malacañang reiterated that drug-related killings in the country are not state-sponsored, and are a result of violent resistance against authorities.
"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," Panelo said.
"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," he said."
Police said 5,526 Filipinos have died in Duterte’s war on drugs from July 1, 2016 until June 30 of this year.
Some of the killings, Panelo claimed, were a result of rivalry and swindling among drug dealers.
"The government’s campaign against prohibited narcotics is anchored primarily on national security and public safety," he said.
Duterte, in his latest State of the Nation Address, promised Filipinos that he would end his term fighting illegal drugs.