This is a case where fiction is being taken “seriously.”
The Department of Interior and Local Government, which oversees the Philippine National Police, is “seriously considering” suing and imposing sanctions against long-running drama “Ang Probinsyano” over alleged misrepresentation of the police force, according to Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya on November 16.
This development came a day after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año advised producers to change its plot. Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde also complained that the teleserye is putting the police force in a bad light.
A form of ‘censorship’
Despite the public apology of actor Coco Martin and the explanation of ABS-CBN management, Año and Albayalde, two heads of major government bodies, are keen on putting pressure on the show.
Filipinos, artists groups and individuals, aired their ire against these actions on social media.
Attempted censorship is how artists group Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity or LODI perceived of this in its statement on Facebook.
Attempted censorship by PNP, DILG demoralizing to artists and mediaPNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and DILG Secretary…
“The attempted censorship of ‘Ang Probinsyano’ could be a trial balloon for future attempts of the Duterte regime to crack down on media and the arts, just because the fictional story headlined by Cardo Dalisay is different from what the regime wants us to believe,” part of its statement read.
“Let us defend the artists’ right to freely express themselves, and to present and depict social realities. Let us unite to protect artists from the tyrannical overreach of the PNP and DILG,” it added.
It also remarked that Albayalde and Año should just apply as TV scriptwriters if they plan to keep using their power to censor the media.
This was echoed by Concerned Artists of the Philippines or CAP in its Facebook post. CAP is an organization co-founded by National Artist of Cinema Lino Brocka in 1983.
PNP, DILG have no right to meddle in Ang Probinsyano: Stop censoring mass media, attacking freedom of expression! We…
“These PNP and DILG officials have no right to meddle in the content and direction of mass media and other cultural productions,” part of its message said.
“They should stick to cleaning up their own ranks of real-life destabilizers, human rights violators, and other shady, suspect characters if they really want to project an image of credibility to the Filipino people,” it added.
Facebook user Yan Esquivel similarly criticized the DILG for blaming the media for the PNP’s “atrocities.”
On the portrayal of Policemen in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano:On the first season (Unang Yugto) of the teleserye, this thesis…
“As for the DILG, if there is something to fix, then fix it, don’t blame the media for portraying the atrocities that you do,” said Esquival, a graduate of University of the Philippines-Visayas.
He also questioned the government for supposedly keeping mum when the teleserye presented a positive but inaccurate image of the PNP during the earlier seasons, and then reacting only when roles are reversed with the current story arc.
“While it is good to perceive policemen as heroes, it is also important to be aware that they could also be perpetrators of crime,” he explained.
Albayalde’s earlier expression of disapproval of the TV series also drew flak among fans of the show.
Possible laws PNP could throw against ‘Ang Probinsyano’
Malaya cited cases that producers of the evening drama may face. One of these is the illegal use of police uniforms, badge and other related paraphernalia.
The official said that it directly violates Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code or the “illegal use of uniforms or insignia.”
It states that any person or group will face arrest when he or she “publicly and improperly make use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to a class of persons of which he is not a member.”
Such provision was also part of the rules of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
This policy was signed both by the PNP and MTRCB in 2016 following the controversial scene of actor James Reid wearing a police uniform in another Kapamilya program.
Furthermore, local officials may also look into the story line of “Ang Probinsyano” for possible violations of the Children’s Television Act of 1997 in terms of it being not a child-friendly program.
Producers and PNP ties: From good to bad
The retelling of the 1997 movie of late actor Fernando Poe Jr. made its debut in September 2015.
Then police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa praised the show when he met Martin and the show’s staff in July 2016.
Albayalde on November 17 ordered his staff to withdraw the resources the police initially extended to the show, which included patrol cars and firearms.