By Raymund Antonio
Opposition senatorial candidates have joined the fray in denouncing the plan of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in taking legal action against the long-running teleserye FPJ’s “Ang Probinsyano.”
Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay both described as an “attack on the freedom of expression” the agencies’ threat to sue the producers of the show if they do not change the plot of the television series.
“As public officials, the officers of the DILG and the PNP should not be too thin-skinned when their functions and duties are subjected to scrutiny by the public,” Macalintal said.
He explained the widely popular television series was just a “work of fiction” and appropriate “all persons fictitious” disclaimer has been shown in every episode of the show.
In the teleserye, he said: “It was pure entertainment and a clear break from the hectic pace of a busy day, so to speak. The story and the dialogues of the thespians never presented any clear and present danger.”
The show televised daily over ABS-CBN, which stars actor Coco Martin, portrays corruption among the police force, with a crooked PNP chief leading some bad cops against an ex-policeman named Cardo Dalisay.
Hilbay, who is a lawyer, has likewise spoken out against statements from PNP.
Hilbay said the PNP will be violating the guarantee of freedom of artistic expression under the 1987 Constitution if it pursues its plan to file a case against the show’s producers.
“Ang karapatan ng mga manunulat at artista ay sagrado sa ating Saligang Batas (The rights of the writers and artists are sacred in our Constitution),” he said.
“The PNP should also not intervene in making the script, which is part of the freedom of expression under our Constitution,” Hilbay stressed in Filipino.
Instead of venting its ire on the show, the lawyer said the PNP should spend its time on improving its image by eliminating the bad eggs within the organization.
Macalintal said if the government would censor or compel the producers of “Ang Probinsyano” to change its plot in favor of the PNP, the Philippines would be a “laughing stock of the world.”
“If it happens, what would prevent the President from asking the producers of Ang Probinsyano to also change its plot which shows a corrupt and murderous president?” he asked.
Macalintal cited the ongoing Netflix TV series of “The House of Cards,” which tells the story a Democrat homosexual president who resorted to murder and violence to achieve his ambition.
Yet, he said: “We never heard of any Democrat leader or official of the US government complaining about the plot and story involved in the House of Cards.”