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Duterte’s spokesman threw shade at “Madam Secretary” for its portrayal of a Philippine president

AP/Aaron Favila
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

President Rodrigo Duterte is best known for his violent war on drugs that has killed thousands of Filipinos. But a fictional portrayal of a Philippine president in “Madam Secretary” has his administration worried that it could portray the leader in a bad light.

An upcoming episode of the CBS drama scheduled to air on Sunday (March 12) will include a scene where the lead character played by Téa Leoni receives sexual advances from an “unconventional new president” from the Philippines. Leoni’s character responds by punching the president in the face. The president portrayed in the show is a fictional character named Datu Andrada.

In a press conference yesterday (March 6), presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella threw shade at the show and said, “I think they’re projecting something that they really would like to say about their own situation. Really I think they should use a fictional U.S. president.” When asked if he finds the storyline insulting Abella said, “You cannot deny them their craft, their taste perhaps.”

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC was also quick to respond to the trailer. A post on its Facebook page says that the embassy wrote a letter to CBS in protest of the “highly negative depiction” of the Philippine president, which also “tarnishes the Philippines’ longstanding advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality.”

One commenter wrote beneath the embassy’s post, “If you don’t wanna be embarrassed, then how about not being embarrassing? Have you looked at our president and the things his administration has done to the country?”

Apart from the controversy attached to Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed more than 7,000 people since he came to power last year, he’s also been criticized for a number of inappropriate comments and actions. During a campaign rally in April, he joked about the gang rape of an Australian missionary in Davao City by saying that he “should have been first.” Once, during a campaign concert, he grabbed a photographer covering the event and kissed her on the cheek.

Duterte also once commented on the length of vice president Leni Robredo’s skirt and publicly called opposition senator Leila De Lima an “immoral woman” because she “funded the house of her lover” with drug money. But Duterte has never denied that he is a playboy; he openly talks about his relationships, and has admitted that he has two wives and two girlfriends.

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