No to criticism
With the country taking center stage in hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte took the opportunity to advertise his favorite topic and targets, namely the illegal drug menace and the Western nations and international groups that continue to criticize his regime’s bloody war against illegal drugs.
What the President said basically amounts to a call for Asean neighbors and “dialogue partners” like the US and European Union to respect and treat each other like equals and to adopt a “noninterference” stance in internal issues such as said war on drugs.
Mr. Duterte had been repeating said message in every public gathering he makes and kept recycling his old attacks to the US, the European Union and lately, the Philippine press for their continued focus on the substantial criticism with how the bloody war on illegal drugs had caused some in the police to go off the rails.
Though the President kept his Asean speech down by adopting a more conciliatory, diplomatic tone, he wasn’t so generous with the media particularly ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer whom he threatened to stop in their tracks.
The warnings form part of a message that the President wants to deliver straight to mainstream media — for them not to interfere with his administration even if the war continues to pile up dead bodies of drug suspects whose guilt or innocence will never be ruled in a court of law.
True, the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) continue to make arrests and seize drug caches worth an insane amount of money for just several kilograms.
But even with the summary executions by the vigilantes who continue to be unidentified and suspected to have full clearance from the powers that be, the drug supply just can’t seem to dry up.
Yet the President doesn’t want to entertain criticism from anyone about his campaign and sees it as “interference” whether it comes from a country that has its own succeeding campaign against illegal drugs or from the mainstream media which he accuses of being corrupt and out to destroy him.
We can only surmise that the mainstream media will not be cowed by threats to close them down or cancel their franchise. Still, the President’s verbal assaults can only take him so far without inviting some opposition — faint though it may be — from the public.
And while his insults at former US President Barack Obama may have attracted his attention, it remains to be seen if the same can work on President Donald Trump who knows just how to put down critics.
In brooking no opposition to his war on illegal drugs, maybe the President and his followers want to present to the public their “alternative facts,” free from any scrutiny and examination and taken as gospel truth.
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