Relations between the U.S. and the Philippines have deteriorated sharply since controversial new president Rodrigo Duterte took office.
His war on drugs has sparked accusations of extra-judicial killings, prompting the U.S. to cancel an aid package which seemingly strained the old alliance close to breaking point.
Now there’s another surprising thorn in Southeast Asian nation's side: An American TV drama that features a nasty fictional Philippine president.
The Philippines' embassy in the U.S. issued a statement Monday, strongly protesting the portrayal of a fictional Filipino president, shown making crude sexual advances toward the U.S. secretary of state character in the CBS show “Madam Secretary.”
"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 of the Philippines in Washington D.C. said in a statement.
“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 that way our nation navigates foreign affairs,” the statement added.
According to the network’s synopsis of the episode, entitled "Break in Diplomacy," it sees fictional U.S. Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord "shocked when the Philippines’ unconventional new president makes a pass at her during their meeting."
The episode’s trailer, posted online, shows McCord, played by actress Tea Leoni, punching the Philippine president after the encounter, leaving him with a bloody nose.
The show is set to air March 12, and the Philippine statement calls for CBS, the network behind the show, “to take the necessary corrective actions.”
NBC News has reached out to CBS for comment.
Philippine President Duterte launched a crusade to rid his country of illegal drugs after assuming office in June 2016. To that end, he began an anti-crime blitz which is alleged to encompass extra-judicial killings by authorities, and has reportedly claimed more than 7,000 lives.
In addition, Duterte has bragged that he “personally” killed criminals while serving as a city mayor, and claimed to have thrown a rape and murder suspect from a helicopter. He threatened corrupt government officials with the same treatment.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights has called for an investigation into Duterte's claims of killing people, to which Duterte last week responded by calling him "stupid," an "idiot" and a "son of a bitch" who should go back to school.