PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte, most commonly known for his brutal war on drugs which has killed thousands of Filipinos in the last nine months, is making a name for himself on television – but not necessarily for the right reasons.
The fictional portrayal of an “unconventional new president” from the Philippines in the hit CBS show Madam Secretary has people understandably drawing parallels between the forthright character and the outspoken president.
The episode which aired on Sunday, March 12, depicts the lead character, the US Secretary of State, punching the Filipino president in the face after the latter makes inappropriate advances towards her.
The likeness to Duterte is almost undeniable, right down to the checked shirt Duterte sported during the 2016 elections.
The barefaced resemblance has not sat well with the Philippines embassy in Washington, which published a statement before the episode aired protesting the “highly negative depiction” of the country’s president.
The embassy points out while the show is fiction, the portrayal runs the risk of impacting how its audience views the real person and country they purport to represent.
They also accused the show of tarnishing the Philippines’ “longstanding advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality.”
Duterte has often been accused of displaying sexist tendencies based on a number of inappropriate comments he made during his campaign.
In April, he joked about the gang rape of an Australian missionary in Davao City, saying he “should have been first.”
He also grabbed a female photographer who was covering his campaign concert and kissed her on the cheek without consent.
And more recently, he has 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.
While this may be considered a point of shame for many politicians, Duterte has actually bragged in the past he was a playboy and openly admitted to having two wives and two girlfriends.
The episode has split Filipinos on social media, some of whom see the funny side and others who see it as a slight on their highly popular leader.
— #UnitedDDS 🇵🇭👊🏼 (@prodigalfan) March 8, 2017
Others thought the portrayal was fair and that the reality was worse than fiction.
Madam Secretary piqued my interest but I thought the portrayal of Duterte was rather inaccurate. He’s more of a dick than that.
— ㅤㅤㅤ (@papercutfiles) March 8, 2017
I can’t even w/ Madam Secretary. Pro Duterte peeps mad about fictional pres leering at someone when in fact Duterte has done this publicly.
— Ami E Swanepoel (@amievangelista) March 8, 2017
Despite protest from the embassy and locals, CBS went ahead with airing as scheduled and has yet to issue a response.