Now, it’s the New York Times that is destabilizing the Duterte administration by publishing a profile of the Philippine leader as an emerging strongman, according to an ally of the President.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles on Thursday said the Times article was an attempt to “destabilize and topple down the government” so that “enemies of the State” may grab power.
“New York Times owes our country, our people and our President an explanation and an apology,” Nograles said in statement.
The Times article, “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman” by Richard Paddock, traced Duterte’s life and career as a “killer-savior”—from the beatings he received as a boy to his rise as one of the country’s toughest mayors to being a foul-mouthed president.
The article was published also by the Inquirer on Thursday.
“The spin doctors are on overtime to put in disrepute the President of our republic in a desperate attempt to take over. They are going international because they know that our people know better and nobody would believe them,” Nograles said.
Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, said the Duterte profile was “nothing more than a rebooted, rehashed, exaggerated remake of a movie script.”
“This is obviously a calibrated and calculated move by enemies of the State to force themselves into power in an undemocratic manner. Only rich and powerful enemies have the means to operate in this manner,” he said.
Nograles said the details in the story were all “obviously fed” by detractors of Mr. Duterte and not based on objective research by “hard-nosed journalists.”
“The writer made it appear that he interviewed a few people for the article but it is clear that he picked only parts of those interviews that were unfavorable to President Duterte and his people,” Nograles said.
“It destroyed the time-honored balance required in journalism and recklessly tried to damage the interests of the Philippines,” he added.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a fierce critic of Duterte, was among the people interviewed by the writer, who also extensively quoted the President’s brother and sister.
“Curiously,” Nograles said, “the malicious article came at a time when there was this report from New York City by Filipina journalist Ethel Cantor Constantino, a former Davao broadcaster, that intense fund-raising activities are being undertaken in that particular American area.”
“The report from New York made public online did mention of Philippine opposition figures raising money to bring down the Duterte administration,” he said.
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
He is a child of privilege turned populist politician, an antidrug crusader who has struggled
with drug abuse. Obsessed with death, he has turned his violent vision into national policy.
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — 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.
Mr. Duterte and his friends have long cultivated legends of his sadistic exploits, like 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.
Whether Mr. Duterte has done what he says — the killings he claims to have carried out are impossible to verify — he has realized his gory vision in national policy. First as a mayor, now as president of the Philippines, he has encouraged the police and vigilantes to kill thousands of people with impunity.
While his draconian justice and coarse manner have earned him widespread condemnation outside the Philippines, an in-depth look at his rise to power and interviews with many people close to him reveal a man of multiple contradictions.
He has alienated many with outrageous comments and irrational behavior, yet remains wildly popular. He is an antidrug crusader, yet has struggled with drug abuse himself. And he grew up a child of privilege, the son of a provincial governor, yet was subjected to regular beatings.
His mother whipped him so often for his misbehavior that she wore out her horsewhip, according to his brother, Emmanuel Duterte. At parochial school, he was caned by Jesuit priests and, the president says, molested by one. By his teenage years, he was known as a street brawler.
“Violence in the house, violence in the school and violence in the neighborhood,” Emmanuel Duterte said. “That is why he is always angry. Because if you have pain when you are young, you are angry all the time.”
Years later, a psychological assessment of Mr. Duterte, prepared in 1998 for the annulment of his marriage, concluded that he had “narcissistic personality disorder” and a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights.”
Nonetheless, his ailing ex-wife campaigned for his presidential bid last year.
That act of devotion only begins to unravel the paradox that is Mr. Duterte. Behind his brutish caricature, according to interviews with dozens of Mr. Duterte’s friends, family members, allies and critics, is a man who can be charming and engaging. He has many loyal friends and a soft spot for sick children.
As mayor of Davao City, he was known to help people in need by digging into his pocket and handing them a wad of cash. To many, his vulgar jokes only burnish his bona fides as a man of the people. When he appears in public, he is swarmed by adoring fans.
Still, the bodies have been piling up. Since Mr. Duterte took office last June and declared a “war” on drugs, the police and unknown assassins have killed more than 3,600 people, the police say, mostly in the slums of Philippine cities. Some put the toll at more than 7,000.
Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
“I might go down in the history as the butcher,” he acknowledged unapologetically in January.
In less than nine months, he has already surpassed the death toll of President Ferdinand Marcos, whose forces killed about 3,300 political opponents and activists during his harsh 20-year rule.
Yet his gangland approach to combating crime and drugs has largely endeared him to Filipinos who have suffered high rates of violent crime and who see him as a refreshing change from the sophisticated but out-of-touch elite who have ruled this country for most of the last three decades.
The dissonance between the image of the gentle, caring grandfather and the brutal strongman spilling blood on the streets is just one of many in a common-man president who was born to the elite and has lived a life surrounded by violence.