‘Double standards, prejudice’: MTRCB chair under fire for defending ‘E.A.T.’

August 4, 2023 - 4:43 PM
A photo of MTRCB Lala Sotto during a meeting on July 25, 2023 (MTRCBgov/Facebook)

An official of the country’s regulators for TV and film was accused of having supposed “unjust double standards” by social media users.

Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chair Lala Sotto-Antonio found herself in the crosshairs of several Filipinos after an interview where she spoke up about the issues surrounding an episode of ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime.”

MTRCB on July 31 announced that it received complaints over alleged “indecent acts” of a scene by hosts Vice Ganda and Ion Perez during the variety show’s “Isip Bata” segment. This episode aired on July 25.

The scene in question involved the couple licking the icing off each other’s fingers.

The complaints prompted MTRCB to flag this episode and summon the show’s producers.

RELATED: Why MTRCB summoned ‘It’s Showtime’ producers

Juxtaposed similar incident

Following MTRCB’s advisory, some social media users brought up a recent episode of the rival show “E.A.T.” where Tito Sotto peppered his wife Helen Sotto with kisses in-between segments of the show.

Tito and Helen are Lala’s parents.

Some Filipinos juxtaposed this part of the episode aired in TV5 with the contentious moment between Vice and Ion.

Lala defended Tito and Helen from these criticisms.

In an exclusive interview with veteran columnist Cristy Fermin, the MTRCB chair shared that she and her siblings consider the gesture as a regular expression of affection.

“Lumaki po kasi akong gano’n, na halos araw-araw ng buhay naming magkakapatid mapa sa telebisyon, maski saan. Mula po noong bata kami. They have been married for 55 years now,” Lala said.

Double standards, other criticisms

Several Filipinos rebuked Lala’s statement about her parents.

They criticized her for supposedly having double standards and prejudice against the relationship of Vice and Ion, citing the couple as members of the LGBTQIA community.

“Let’s end this unjust double standard on love and affection! Walang malaswa o masagwa sa pagmamahalang Vice at Ion! What happened in ‘It’s Showtime’ is not indecent. First and foremost, they are in a COMMITTED ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP,” Mela Habijan posted.

“Sa statement ni Lala Sotto parang ipinapalabas niya na hindi mabuting ehemplo at matinong marriage ang mayroon sa pagmamahalan ni Vice Ganda at Ion Perez compared to her parents. JUSKO VICE AND ION ARE MARRIED, THEY ARE FULL OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS,” X account AltStarMagic also said.

“The couple has been doing such public displays of affection on air for years and no one bats an eye but if a homosexual couple (yes, mag-asawa sina Vice at Ion) does it everyone loses their minds. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?” another Twitter user said.

Some Filipinos also challenged Lala’s position as MTRCB chairperson commenting about her parents’ actions on television.

“The fact that you’re there acting as chairperson is already a conflict of interest, and you defending your parents? Ghorlll?” a Twitter user reacted.

No violations were committed by either the producers of “E.A.T.” or her parents, according to Lala.

“Malinaw na walang anumang hindi angkop na nangyari sa binanggit na kilos ng aking mga magulang sa programang ‘E.A.T.’ Wala rin po silang nilabag na mga alintuntunin at gabay ng MTRCB kaya hindi po dapat bigyan ng Notice to Appear at hindi dapat ipatawag ang ‘E.A.T’,” Lala said in the interview with Fermin. 

Possible violations of ‘It’s Showtime’ hosts

The head regulator also cited that “It’s Showtime” producers might be liable for violations under Section (c) of Presidential Decree 1986.

In this provision, the Board has the authority to delete or disapprove portions of a television program that the members deemed to be “objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines or its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime.”