THE Department of Interior and Local Government will meet with the producers of the prime time television show Ang Probinsyano this week to discuss their differences over the show’s portrayal of some of its characters.
“The producers of the show have approached us to discuss ways to resolve the issues raised by the Philippine National Police (PNP). As we said previously, we are always open to dialogue and we look forward to meeting with them soon,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a statement released on Monday, Nov. 18.
Last week, the DILG and the Philippine National Police expressed their dismay over the negative portrayal of police officers and other government officials in the prime time show of ABS-CBN.
The network immediately responded and assured the public that “elements of the show are purely fictitious.”
FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is an action-drama television series based on a 1997 film of the same name which starred Fernando Poe, Jr.
The series, which has had over 800 episodes so far (it has been airing daily since 2015), follows police officer Ricardo “Cardo” Dalisay (played by Rodel “Coco Martin” Nacianceno) as he battles drug syndicates, terrorists, and now — on the series’ third story arc as a retired police officer and vigilante — the corrupt national government led by the president Lucas Cabrera (played by Eduardo “Edu” Manzano) whose henchmen include an equally corrupt police chief Alejandro Terante (played by Soliman Cruz).
DILG’s Mr. Año said: “We recognize that Ang Probinsiyano is a work of fiction and purely entertainment and we do not question their right to freely determine the script of their show but under the law there are limits to what you can do with the PNP name, logo, insignia, uniform, and materials.”
He added, “We do not wish to dictate on the producers the show’s plot or storyline nor do we want the show to be canceled. But we take issue with the use of PNP uniforms, insignia, etc. in a show that paints a grossly inaccurate picture of the entire police organization. If they wish to proceed with the show’s current plot, they are free to utilize a fictional law enforcement agency. That would be consistent with their claim that the show is completely a work of fiction, which unfortunately is not the case.”
Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said: “Under Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code, it is prohibited for any person to 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. This is reinforced by Executive Order No. 297 entitled an Order Regulating the Sale, Distribution and Use of PNP Uniforms, Insignias, and Other Accoutrements.”
Mr. Malaya also noted that the PNP and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2017 regarding the appropriate way of wearing police uniforms on television programs and movies.
“We are the first to admit that there are bad eggs in the police ranks which is why the DILG is serious in our internal cleansing program. Unfortunately, the show reinforces the stereotypes which the DILG has been tirelessly working to change. Such is unfair to the thousands of good and honest policemen who are laying their lives on the line just to serve the public,” said Mr. Malaya.
A number of celebrities and government officials have reacted to the PNP-Probinsyano affair over the last few days. Interaksyon quoted Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares — who is the daughter of Mr. Poe who starred in the original 1997 film — as saying, “How the people view the police is based on the actions of the real police they see on the streets and not on the acting of fictional cops they watch on screen.”
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Sr., who served as chief of police from 1999 to 2001, criticized the series, calling it “unfair” to portray the police negatively. “I support the move of PNP chief [Director General Oscar Albayalde}… Don’t make the image of the PNP that bad because they are trying hard to lift the personnel’s morale and credibility,” he said in the vernacular during a press briefing on Nov. 15, according to The Philippine Star.
“First was Goyo [referring to the recent historical film on Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar] and a politician. Now it’s a TV series and the PNP. Authorities want TV and film to show ‘better’ things about them… Hah,” actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith, who plays one of Coco Martin’s love interests in Ang Probinsyano, said on Twitter.
Director Kip Oebanda, who directed the Martial Law film Liway (2018), also took to Twitter to air his opinion: “DILG is trying to force Ang Probinsyano to make the police look good. Guys, the show’s title is Ang Probinsyano not Ang Propaganda. You know what’s ruining your image? Censorship,” he said in the vernacular.
In the same thread, Mr. Oebanda listed several PNP offences that he thinks are truly negatively affecting the image of the country’s police force, including President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s 2016 remark calling children killed in the ongoing drug was as “collateral damage”; killing a mayor in prison (Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed in an alleged shootout in 2016 while he was incarcerated); and the rape of a minor in exchange for the freedom of her parents who were taken in as drug suspects.
“So obviously, this is the fault of Probinsyano,” Mr. Oebanda said sarcastically. — Vince C. Ferreras and Zsarlene B. Chua