The depiction of Muslim characters in a recent episode of the action television series "Batang Quiapo" has rubbed Lanao del Sur 1st district Rep. Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong the wrong way.
"This humble representation is disheartened by the recent episode of the Batang Quiapo series. In the episode, Muslim characters are depicted as harboring and condoning theft, under the pretext of using stolen goods to help others," Adiong said in a statement Thursday, Feb. 16.
He said that in the episode, the Muslim characters not only owned guns but had "such a notorious reputation to police officers that the latter would give up the pursuit of a thief who has sought refuge with them".
The Mindanao congressman described this portrayal as "discriminatory, harmful, and derogatory".
"As the representative of Lanao del Sur and a Bangsamoro Muslim, I am deeply saddened by this discriminating portrayal," he said.
"It is crucial to note that Islam does not coddle theft and considers it a major sin. The Quran states in Chapter 5, verse 38: 'As for the thief, male or female, cut off their hands. It is the recompense for what they have earned, exemplary punishment from Allah. And Allah is Almighty, Wise.' Clearly theft even to benefit the less fortunate is not countenanced by Islam," he said.
Adiong continued, referring to Batang Quiapo: "It is dispiriting that the few moments Muslims are portrayed in popular media are usually rehashed and outdated stereotypes."
He added that "such harmful stereotypes that have no place in our society".
"The Muslim community is a diverse and vibrant group that has made significant contributions to the progress and development of our nation. To ignore this fact and portray us in a negative light is a disservice to our community’s long-standing presence in this country and to the values of respect and inclusivity that we should all strive to uphold."
Adiong asked the creators of Batang Quiapo to reconsider the impact of their film and the message it sends to its viewers.
"In a time when the world is already grappling with hate speech and extremism, popular media must strive for better representation of Muslims. We call upon them to take steps to ensure that such incidents regarding representations of Muslims in multimedia and social media do not happen in the future," he said.
"We call upon the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and all concerned agencies to review current policies regarding the representation of Muslims in movies, television and digital shows. As for this office, we will review, strengthen, and push forward legislative measures to address similar acts of discrimination," he further said.