The Philippine government has protested the depiction of a fictional leader of its country who makes a pass at the female US Secretary of State in the CBS drama “Madam Secretary.” A video teaser of the episode airing Sunday shows the middle-aged Filipino character with a bloodied nose after being punched by the titular character, US Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, played by Tea Leoni.
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The Philippine Embassy in Washington said it wrote to CBS on Monday to “strongly protest the highly negative depiction of a character purported to be the Philippine President” and called on the network to take necessary corrective actions.
It’s the latest potential irritant between the United States and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who sharply criticized then-President Barack Obama for raising concerns over his deadly anti-drug crackdown and has called his own country’s foreign policy too dependent on the U.S. The episode synopsis describes the “Philippines’ unconventional new president” as exhibiting inappropriate behavior toward McCord.
“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 denigrates the way our nation navigates foreign affairs,” the Philippine Embassy said. “It also tarnishes the Philippines’ longstanding advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality.”
While the Philippines has had two female presidents in its history, Duterte has been criticized for making crude and sexist remarks. Duterte’s 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.”