‘Batang Quiapo’ producers apologize for ‘discriminatory portrayals’ of Muslim characters
The production team of “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” has extended apologies to the Muslim community after Rep. Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong expressed concern over the TV series’ “discriminatory, harmful, and derogatory portrayals” of its Muslim characters on its Feb. 14 episode.
In the said episode, Coco Martin’s character Tanggol was being chased by the police officers for stealing. Tanggol then sought the help of his Muslim friend, portrayed by Rez Cortez, whose armed Muslim friends supposedly put off the authorities from further chasing Tanggol.
Adiong, the Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative, lamented how this particular scene depicted Muslim characters as “harboring and condoning theft, under the pretext of using stolen goods to help others,” as per his Facebook page on Thursday, Feb. 16.
“Furthermore these same characters not only own guns, but have such a notorious reputation to police officers that the latter would give up the pursuit of a thief who has sought refuge with them. These are discriminatory, harmful, and derogatory portrayals of an entire community,” Adiong said. “Clearly theft even to benefit the less fortunate is not countenanced by Islam.”
“We urge the creators of ‘Batang Quiapo’ to reconsider the impact of their film and the message it sends to its viewers,” he continued. “In a time when the world is already grappling with hate speech and extremism, the last thing we need is a popular television show that adds fuel to the fire. We call upon them to take steps to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future.”
Adiong also called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to look into the incident, and asked the public to “to reject hate and discrimination in all its forms.”
In response, the “Batang Quiapo” production released its official statement via production company Dreamscape Entertainment’s Instagram page.
“Nais naming humingi ng taos-pusong paumanhin sa mga manonood lalo na sa mga miyembro ng Muslim community na nasaktan sa isang eksena sa ‘FPJ’s Batang Quiapo’ na umere noong Pebrero 14,” it read.
(We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the viewers, most especially to the members of the Muslim community who were hurt by a scene from “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” aired on Feb. 14.)
“Nauunawaan namin ang mga nagpahayag ng opinyon at damdamin tungkol dito at sinisiguro namin na walang masamang intensyon ang programa na diskriminahin, saktan o ilarawan ang ating mga kababayang Muslim sa negatibong paraan,” it added.
(We understand those who voiced out their opinions and sentiments on the matter, and we make sure that the program has no intentions of discriminating, hurting or depicting our Muslim brothers and sisters in a negative way.)
The series production also vowed that it would practice utmost sensitivity in treating such topics in its future episodes.
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The MTRCB also released an official statement, saying it recognized Adiong’s concern and that it was working on television policies that are “responsive to the cultural and religious sensitivities of Filipino-Muslim viewers.”
“CCM Film Productions, the production company behind the program, has apologized to the Agency and committed to closely coordinate with the MTRCB to ensure similar incidents are avoided in the future,” the agency stated.
“Nevertheless, it will also be issuing a notice to the networks concerned to ensure that depictions of Filipino-Muslims in their programs honor the culture, society, and special values of Islam and the Filipino-Muslim community,” it concluded.
“FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” premiered last Monday, Feb. 13. Its pilot episode became a trending Twitter topic in the Philippines, with netizens lauding the actors for their effective portrayal of their characters. /ra