The Philippine Embassy in Washington has denounced what it called a “highly negative portrayal” of President Duterte in the American television series Madam Secretary.
In the CBS political drama’s upcoming episode, the Philippines’ “unconventional new president” Datu Andrada is punched in the face by the female lead character, US Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, after some “inappropriate behaviour”.
In a letter to CBS, the embassy said the portrayal “tarnishes the Philippines’ long-standing advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality” as it called on the network to make “necessary corrective actions.”
“While Madam Secretary is a work of fiction, it tracks and mirrors current events. It is, therefore, inevitable that its depiction of world leaders will have an impact on how its audience views the real personages and the countries they represent,” the embassy wrote.
“This highly negative portrayal of our Head of State not only casts doubt on the respectability of the Office of the Philippine President but also denigrated that way our nation navigates foreign affairs.
“In view of the injurious effects that this program will have on the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people, the Philippine embassy urgently calls on CBS to take the necessary corrective actions,” it added.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said while it is clear the series is a work of fiction, “I think they are projecting something that they really would like to say about their own situation.”
It’s the latest potential irritant between the United States and President Duterte, who has previously hurled insults at President Obama, said most Americans are stupid and shifted his foreign policy away from the USA and towards China.
Duterte, a self-confessed womaniser, has been criticised for sexually inappropriate remarks against women in the past, including his admission of spanking the bottoms of female cops, ogling at Vice President Leni Robredo’s knees and catcalling a female reporter during a press conference.
The preview of the episode shows a fictional Philippine president leering at the US official. “I clobbered a world leader instead of saving a major regional agreement,” McCord tells her husband after the incident.
Philippine authorities have a history of protesting negative portrayals in Hollywood of Filipinos.
In 2009, the Philippine government demanded an apology from actor Alec Baldwin for joking about wanting a Filipina mail-order bride.
The producers of Desperate Housewives show also apologised in 2007 after a lead character criticised Filipino doctors.
The show goes out on Sunday, March 12.