Lawyer Eugenio “Toto” Villareal, new chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), assures observers that the government agency will remain steadfast in its goal to protect young viewers from inappropriate content.
“We want to make sure that children’s shows will not contain material that’s too mature, for example,” he told the Inquirer. “The bottom line: Television and movie fare should be age-appropriate.”
Villareal asserted that not a few board members were concerned moms and dads. “The best qualification for this job is being a parent,” he noted.
Child advocates are also represented in the board.
Not that being a lawyer is inconsequential. Villareal’s expertise was put to good use when the board got embroiled in a scandal involving the Tulfo brothers.
(Erwin, Raffy and Ben Tulfo made “threatening” remarks on their TV program against Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto, as a result of the show biz couple’s airport skirmish with the trio’s older brother, Mon Tulfo.)
Villareal acted as board spokesperson during that tumultuous episode. He told the Inquirer, however, that he doesn’t have a “monopoly on legal opinion” in the board.
He explained: “I teach law at the Ateneo and I practice entertainment law, [but] there are other lawyers in the MTRCB.”
As former lawyer for a radio station, he became more familiar with media issues.
His hope is for the industry to evolve toward self-regulation. “The board cannot cut scenes or censor. All deletions are voluntary.” Films getting “X’d,” however, cannot be avoided completely under Presidential Decree No. 1986, which governs the board.
“We are just here to implement the law,” Villareal explained, adding that former chair Grace Poe “set up the infrastructure” for the board. “I have big shoes to fill,” he acknowledged.
Invitation to vigilance
He hopes to continue championing several programs that Poe initiated—including the discounted review rates for indie filmmakers and the new classification system for television and the movies.
The new system has also introduced R-16 as a response to the changing times. It is the board’s goal for parents to become more proactive in monitoring their children’s viewing fare, said Villareal. “Our classification system is an invitation to parents,” he said. “We [also] tour campuses to inform the public about the new classification system.”
He hopes everyone will practice “matalinong panonood” or deliberate viewership. “Viewers should be more critical. They shouldn’t take everything they see on-screen at face value,” he said.