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Coco Martin's 'Ang Probinsiyano' under fire but gains support

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(Photo from Instagram | @mr.cocomartin)


Coco Martin’s television series “Ang Probinsiyano” under fire even as it draws more support from viewers and the entertainment industry.


This as the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered all of its units to withdraw support for the three-year on the running TV series for allegedly depicting policemen in a bag light while the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) called for investigation on the use of its cast of PNP uniforms, insignias, and other official paraphernalia, raising the possibility that the show could be censored or even axed.


In a memorandum issued last week, all PNP offices and personnel were told to stop assisting and providing resources to the production team of the hit series.


"All units, offices, and personnel are advised to immediately refrain from assisting, to withdraw their support to the production of the said teleserye in terms of PNP resources like patrol cars, firearms, personnel, venues, and other items and gadgets being used in the teleserye," Police Community Relations Director Eduardo Garado said.


This developed after PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde aired concern on the alleged negative portrayal of some policemen in the Coco Martin-starrer.


Garado, in the memorandum, said producers of the show promised during a dialogue with the police force and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) last October 17 and 23 to "make the necessary corrections on the issues raised by the PNP in a week's time."


Senate President Vicene Sotto III and Senators Grace Poe and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes came to the defense of top rating television show “Ang Probinsyano,” both shielding the telenovela from criticisms from the DILG and the PNP.


Many actors like Vice Ganda also came to the defense of Coco Martin and his show, pointing out that the "show" was only a show and does not depict real situations and characters in the police agency.


An alliance of artists and media practitioners at the same time slammed the PNP leaders and the DILG for its supposed attempt to "censor" the hit TV series "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano”.


The group Let's Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said it is the administration itself, and not the ABS-CBN action drama, that demoralizes the police force when it continues to be involved in alleged killings under the drug war. 


"Both Albayalde and Año claim that the story of 'Ang Probinsyano' demoralizes the ranks of policemen in this country. They should look for a mirror and join President Duterte in staring at it," LODI said in a statement. 


"If there’s anyone who demoralizes law enforcers, it is this regime that presides over an orgy of extrajudicial killings both in the cities and the countryside," the group added, urging Albayalde and Año to resign and just apply as the show's scriptwriters instead.


LODI stated it believes the move by the police could be a "trial balloon" for future attempts to crack down the media and the arts, citing that "Ang Probinsyano" is aired by a ABS-CBN, a network Duterte wishes to be denied a legislative franchise.


Sotto, who is a singer-actor, said judging the television series is highly debatable pointing out that the characterization there are not of those real people and clear fiction for the movies and television.


Poe, daughter of the late Movie King Fernando Poe Jr., who first portrayed the role “Cardo” in the “Ang Probinsyano" movie, said that current lead role Coco Martin has no reason to seek forgiveness since the actor is doing nothing wrong but just portraying his role.


The lady senator instead urged the DILG and PNP to focus their attention and energy on other more pressing problems they are facing such as high volume of crimes and the deterioration of the values of some of their members.


Trillanes warned the DILG and the PNP against forcing the producers of the show to change the plot of the story which he said would amount to censorship.


“Ganun talaga ang script eh, sabi nga fiction yan. Yan ay kathang isip kahit na anong script gawin dyan. Kung wala ka namang ginagawang mali, hindi ka dapat maba-bother dyan,” Trillanes said.


He said that if the PNP will insist on interfering with the show, he will file a resolution that will investigate their actions.


Trillanes advised the PNP not to watch the teleserye if they are taking offense with the show which he argued is purely fiction.


Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chief Rachel Arenas, a former congresswoman, meanwhile, said the agency has no mandate to stop the showing of "Ang Probinsiyano" but meetings are continuing with the PNP and DILG and ABSCBN and MTRCB to thresh out concerns on the series.


Only the court can stop the showing, said Arenas.


Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said there could be violation of freedom of expression which is guarranted by the constitution if the PNP and DILG insist on censoring the series.


"Solution is baguhin ang situation para sa image ng PNP," said Prof Luis Teodoro of the Center for Press Freedom and Responsibility.


DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano and PNP chief Albayalde later backpedalled and made it clear they did not want giant ABS-CBN to stop the airing of the hit series ‘Ang Probinsiyano.’


The officials, however, said they are merely concerned with the negative portrayal of the police force in the series and wanted it corrected as soon as possible.


The PNP has called on the attention of Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairperson Maria Rachel J. Arenas to seriously look into the matter specifically their concern that the ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ has put the uniformed organization in a bad light, its recent episodes continuously portraying PNP personnel including the Chief PNP as villains, thus literally putting the PNP as ‘bad guys in the eyes of the public.’


Officials also have called the attention of ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer  Carlo Katigbak and Ms. Camille Camacho Rosales, an official of Dreamscape Entertainment, the outfit behind the series, regarding what they said as the ‘unfair depiction of PNP personnel in the teleserye, the PNP Chief included, thus putting the police force and its leaders in bad light.


Among the issues and concerns raised by the PNP were several scenes in ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ including one showing a high-ranking officer telling a subordinate that he can get a position ‘sa tamang halaga’ or through bribery. Officials said that the scene is an ‘insult not only to the PNP but also to the appointing authority, the President of the Republic since senior officers in the PNP are being appointed based on merits.


Another concern is the presence of the ‘Vendetta,’ the rebel group led by lead actor Coco Martin and former Senator Manuel Lito Lapid. The PNP said that the ‘Vendetta’ in the teleserye is depicted as defenders of the seat


 of government although it is contrary to real truth and in some ways sends viewers specifically the youth a distorted message.


Officials said that there was a scene in ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ wherein the ‘Vendetta’ members easily killed a group of policemen and Presidential Security Group personnel who were being portrayed as ‘villains’ in the story as they were involved in a plot to kill the president.


There is also the PNP’s concern over the ‘shabby’ wearing of police uniforms by many of the cast including the one who portrays the PNP chief as well as the series’ credit acknowledgement which gives the public the impression that the PNP is closely supervising the shooting of the ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ scenes when no real consultations between the police organization and the teleserye men have been taking place over the past months.


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