MMFF’s ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ juxtaposed with the controversial drug war

December 26, 2019 - 5:25 PM
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Miracle in Cell No 7 remake
Aga Muhlach and Xia Vigor stars in the Philippine remake of South Korean movie 'Miracle in Cell No. 7.' (Screengrab from Viva Films via YouTube)

The premise of Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Miracle in Cell No. 7” around the unfortunate fate of the wrongly accused languishing behind bars is a timely commentary about the failures of the justice system in the Philippines.

For some viewers, it is ironic that the local adaptation of the South Korea film turned out to be the most popular at this year’s festival, while the war on drugs that purportedly executed and jailed those who were not yet charged and convicted remains a popular policy of the administration.

“Imagine crying over ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ that literally talks about a father who died for a crime he didn’t commit and justifying our president along with this rigged system that kills the lives of innocent people at the same time,” a Twitter user wrote, referencing President Rodrigo Duterte.

The user retweeted a post by another individual who shared the same sentiments about the movie’s popularity, pointing out how Filipinos continue to support actions that go against the justice system, particularly extrajudicial killings.

The local adaptation of the “Miracle in Cell No. 7” was reported to be a surprise hit in most of Metro Manila cinemas on the opening day of the annual MMFF yesterday.

VIVA Films, the remake’s producer, shared screenshots on its Instagram account to show that the movie was sold out.

“Miracle in Cell No. 7” tells of the story of a man with a developmental disorder who is imprisoned for heinous crimes he did not commit and how he stayed reunited with his daughter through the help of fellow inmates.

RELATED: There’s some hype around Filipino remake of South Korea’s ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’

In the adapted version, veteran actor Aga Muhlach plays the role of Yong-gu, Xia Vigor is the young version of his daughter Ye-seung and Bela Padilla appears as the older version.

The movie also stars Joel Torre, JC Santos, Mon Confiado, John Arcilla and Tirso Cruz III and Ronnie Lazaro.

A look at the country’s state of justice under Duterte 

According to polling firm Pulse Asia, Duterte continues to be trusted by Filipinos. His trust ratings increased from 78% in September to 87% this month.

People who distrust him have reportedly decreased from 14% to 8% while those who disapprove of his performance as chief executive decreased from 8% to 5%.

Duterte is known for his hardline policies against illegal narcotics and has been accused of initiating and sponsoring extrajudicial killings ever since he took office in 2016.

Critics have filed complaints against him to the International Criminal Court for allegedly committing crimes against humanity over the war on drugs.

If there is enough basis for the complaint, the Hague-based court will then conduct a formal investigation into the matter.

Based on the report of ICC, various agents including the UN secretary-general, UN bodies and experts, other countries, international non-governmental organizations and national civil representatives have expressed “serious concern” about EJKs and Duterte’s statements about the matter.

It has been viewed “as endorsing the killings and fostering an environment of impunity and violence.”