Malacañang blasted the senior staff of United States President Donald Trump for showing “blissful ignorance” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s success in eradicating illegal drugs in the Philippines.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the executive branch was no longer surprised when Trump’s aides and other members of his administration were left “genuinely horrified” by the US leader’s admiration of Duterte’s anti-narcotics drive.
“President Trump’s praise of our anti-drug policy and action underscores the American leader’s fair judgment coming from his unlimited and unimpeded access to information,” the Palace official said in a statement.
“The staff was blissfully ignorant about pertinent facts surrounding this administration’s campaign against illegal narcotics; hence, the reaction, if true, is not surprising,” he added.
Panelo’s statement was in reaction to the Washington Post’s October 5 report which claimed that Trump’s past “embarrassing” phone calls with foreign leaders, including Duterte, had served as “an anxiety-ridden set of events for his aides and members of the administration.”
Quoting an unnamed former White House official, the Washington Post said, “There was a constant undercurrent in the Trump administration of [senior staff] who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls.”
The report then cited Trump’s phone conversation with Duterte in April 2017, from which the American president praised the Philippine leader for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
Panelo slammed the Washington Post for spreading mere rumors against Trump and other world leaders mentioned in its article.
He also stressed that the anonymous staff interviewed by the Washington Post exhibited “zero inside knowledge on the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs.”
“The article borders on rumor-mongering. We understand that the reporters based their story on interviews with 12 former or current Trump officials who all spoke on the condition of anonymity. The fact that President Trump’s private conversations with world leaders are leaked freely to the press by unnamed sources is simply outlandish,” Duterte’s spokesman said.
“To headline it as ‘genuinely horrified’ shows strong negative bias against the American President, as well as those personalities involved in the article. It violates the objectivity principle we expect from high-caliber journalists of The Washington Post,” he added.
Panelo said the Washington Post’s slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” suits the prestigious publication, which he said “died in darkness” when it engaged in “political propaganda.”
Duterte’s war on rampant narcotics trade has been heavily criticized by local and foreign critics because of the supposed alarming rise in drug-related deaths.
Unfazed by criticisms, the President has repeatedly told those who strongly opposed his drug war that his crackdown on the illegal substance would remain relentless. (PNA)
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