Palace shrugs off Duterte as 'hypocritical leader' in set of playing cards

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugs off President Duterte's inclusion in a card set of so-called "hypocritical leaders." (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 23) — Malacañang has no qualms about a set of playing cards of so-called "hypocritical leaders" which included President Rodrigo Duterte's image as the "Joker."

"Is there anything we can do about that? That was their decision, let it be. The President has always respected freedom of expression, so be it," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Thursday.

This is after Release — a drug-advocacy charity based in the United Kingdom--began selling cards Wednesday with the faces of politicians who impose prohibitive drug policies despite previously admitting to using drugs.

Through a Twitter post, Release announced that Duterte will be part of its 2017 version of the playing cards, "Drugs, The Law, and Your Rights." Duterte's image is on the "Joker" card.


Duterte has consistently lashed out against the use of illegal drugs. His administration has waged an anti-illegal drug war since he became President in June 2016, with almost 4,000 killed in related drug bust operations as of October 2017.

But in December 2016, Duterte admitted in an interview that he used fentanyl, an illegal opioid in the Philippines, to address an existing medical condition.

In a May 2017 blog post, the UK-based group said it would feature "fresh faces" in its list of politicians — including Duterte.

"The murderous Filipino president will undoubtedly feature on our upcoming pack of cards, but we need some more suggestions for who to include," Release's post read.

But the Palace shrugged off these allegations.

"Let's just say that worst things have been said about the President. He takes it in stride," Roque said.

Among those who were featured previously in the "Joker" card were former United States President George W. Bush, and former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. Both had allegedly used drugs and have promoted anti-drug policies.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.