Sen. Padilla’s charade

Double Vision

Antonio V. Figueroa

Sen. Robinhood Padilla’s ‘unusual’ demand to ban the move ‘Plane’ from being shown in Philippine cinemas on account of the negative portrayal of Jolo in the film is more of a charade than anything else. For an actor who has been proudly portraying criminals and other evil men in many of his movies, the request was anomalous for this only escalated interest in the flick, which in turn translates into more income for the movie makers.

While the intent of banning a movie may be good, Padilla has failed to appreciate what is meant by artistic license. There is no question he loves the Muslim people of which his faith is affiliated, but he has miserably overlooked that the enterprise that has been his bread and butter is clothed by freedoms safeguarded under the 1987 Constitution. 

Highlighting further his ignorance, the lawmaker said he would only recommend the movie he wants banned if certain “changes are made and they are found to be satisfactory.” In order not to further dignify his shortsightedness, he proudly said the film’s local distribution had voluntarily withdrawn the movie from Philippine showing.

Sen Padilla thought all the while he could piggyback on some idiotic caravan and be declared a hero. He even wants the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to become a monster by proposing to imbue it with the power to control, censor and classify films.

Even the respected director Brillante Mendoza was direct in shooting down Padilla’s idiocy, saying: “Artists and industry people who became lawmakers should do something to protect the very industry that helped put them in that position, not use that power to control it.”

Perhaps even more telling and blunt is the statement made by the Directors Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI), which lectured the neophyte senator that “Agency and free choice must remain with the public, rather than imposed by politicians.” What a shame!

The DGPI added: “If the state can tolerate free expression of trolls, fake news and historical revisionism without worrying about their effect on the country’s prestige, then the state can do the same for a work that members of the foreign press have already regarded as mindless B-movie entertainment rather than a reliable commentary on our country’s affairs.

“We support allowing the film to screen, informing the public of any problematic claims it makes, inviting open debate, or simply ignoring the film altogether. But we stand against censorship or banning the exhibition of this film from screening.”

Moreover, the grandstanding senator has yet to act in a film that proclaims the wonders of Jolo, an enchanting territory that is immensely stunning given its pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets, turquoise waters, and wonderful biodiversity. Instead, he has popularized and glorified the lives of criminals in his films. In context, Sen. Padilla has no objections to making public enemies the theme of films especially if the assured talent fee makes for a fat pocketbook.

For sure, if the movie was offered to Sen. Padilla and the talent fee was in dollars, there’s no arguing he would have accepted it hands down. And, he also has to withdraw in good fate his movies that glorify hooligans, thugs, and fugitives of the law.

Be that as it may, we have also to credit the so-called ‘Bad Boy’ of Philippine movies, an ex-convict, for his guts to take side on an issue that personally makes little sense given that it deals on an illusory plot. Someone should tell the senator the difference between fact and fiction.

As to his proposal to abolish the party-list system, he deserves our applause.


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