MANILA -- Malacañang on Saturday took a swipe at President Rodrigo Duterte’s “unthinking” critics, who peddled “bogus” news about the supposed order of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn for the Chief Executive to “behave” while attending ASEAN summits in Thailand. 

This came after an edited October 31 edition of Thailand-based newspaper Bangkok Post that carries the headline, “King orders PH Duterte, behave during Asean summit”, went viral on social media.

“The Palace condemns the latest black propaganda waged by the President's fierce and unthinking critics and detractors by peddling a bogus news story allegedly published by the Bangkok Post with the header, ‘King orders PH Duterte, behave during ASEAN summit,’” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“Evidently, the release is deliberate and malicious as it went viral on the day President Duterte arrived in Thailand to participate in the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits,” he added.

Duterte flew to Thailand on Friday night for the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Bangkok on November 2 to 4.

Panelo lamented that the opposition has once again resorted to “black propaganda” to humiliate the President.

“The political enemies of the President appear to have thrown decency to the garbage bin even as they parade themselves as a rambunctious minority in our country,” he said.

“The Office of the President expresses its indignation over this cheap political stunt aimed at embarrassing PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte), thereby humiliating our country which he represents, before the global audience,” he added.

In a media interview in Thailand on Friday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar presented an original copy of the October 31 edition of the Bangkok Post.

He said the “fake” headline against the President in the edited newspaper replaced the original title, “Suvit calls for Thailand to embrace 5G fast, or lag behind rival”.

To avoid a repeat of the spread of false news, Andanar sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to trace the person behind the edited headline of the Bangkok Post.

Panelo cautioned Duterte’s critics that Thailand has one of the “strictest" lèse-majesté laws in the world, which punishes anyone who taints the reputation of the King.

“Harming Philippine -Thai bilateral relations by defaming the monarchy through lies and falsehoods is punishable by a prison term, and those behind this recent insolence must face such a grim but deserving consequence,” he added.

Under Article 112 of Thailand’s Lèse-majesté law or criminal code states, a person who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” would be punished with a jail term up to 15 years.

Instead of spreading hate, the opposition should observe a “moratorium” on embarrassing, not only the President but also the entire country, Panelo said.

“These raucous anti-Duterte forces should be educated that when the Head of State and the Chief Executive of the Government of the Philippines is on an official trip overseas, we set aside politics -- even the bitterest one amongst foes,” he said.

“If this group cannot rally behind a nation’s mandated leader, as he represents not only his office but the image of the nation as a whole, it should at least observe (a) moratorium on their campaign on hate,” he added. (PNA)