Attacking the freedom of expression

INTERCOURSE | Rhoderick Maquirang TecsonI am not really a fan of Cardo Dalisay and his Pulang Araw partners turned Vendetta. The semblance of its storyline to real life events tend to be most of the time surreal and exaggerated.

I have no cable television connection thus I have to settle for the cheap antenna sold in Chinese stores so that in rare instances I am home for dinner, I can switch to “Ang Probinsiyano” and wait for my crush Alyanna, the wife of Cardo.

I love her eyes. I love the way she gets mad and smiles. Little did I realize, I have involuntarily become a fan of the television series.

My neighbors have made lola Flora and Delfin a part of their dinner routines. Filipinos have started to connect with the characters and children most often would shout Pulang Araw with the sight of men in uniforms.

I have become one of those who curse the show and Cardo for its never-ending plot but at the same time wait in anticipation and excitement the twists the next day.

Despite its inadequacies and petty twists, I have become unwillingly a fan of “Ang Probinsiyano.”

Its storyline is not actually special. It revolves around the outrageous task of Vendetta in keeping the president and his daughter who are being hunted by the vice president and his Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and the rest of the gang. The good guys are in a mercenary-mode battle to regain power and overthrow the bad guys who reign the country.

This is where the real life conflict began. The real life PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde sounded off the alarm that resulted to the withdrawal of all “technical and production” support the police have been providing the show. He is not comfortable with the portrayal of the police force.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Ano echoed the same sentiment to the point of threatening legal charges against the production team of the TV show.

Both wanted to alter the plot of “Ang Probinsiyano” in favor of the PNP force.

Not long after, the chief of the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) Presida Acosta, who cannot even correct her grammar, joined the bandwagon and threatened the production outfit of the long-running television series of Coco Martin. Acosta wanted to correct the wrongful portrayal of the PNP.

These all came after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that he will personally oppose the renewal of the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN, the home network of the assailed television show. Of course, its entirely a different story.

Let us focus on the storyline of the Martin’s top billed show. Is it inciting people to sedition? An affirnative answer directly assails the intellect of every Filipino. It presupposes that all Filipinos are not capable of discerning the difference between reality and fiction.

Why is it Albayalde, Ano and Acosta are insecure about it? Fiction is best appreciated if the writer knows how to exploit the conflict between the protagonists and the antagonists. In “Ang Probinsiyano”, the good guys, members of the PNP, are included in planning to oust a bad leader and his corrupt police force. What is in it that made Albayalde and Ano react?

Is the PNP and the government under Albayalde and Ano of the same character with the PNP and the government that the group of Cardo Dalisay wanted to destroy and dump?

No way! The government and the PNP that Albayalde and Ano serve is never the same as the government under Lucas Cabrera and Alejandro Terante. They are way better. In fact, its only under this leadership that extra-judicial killing has become a norm and thus it has become legal. There are no corrupt people in Malacanang and the PNP. So what are they worried of?

A state trying to meddle and alter the content of a television show presupposes an assault to the freedom of expression for which they are sworn to protect. If this happens, under the current set-up, in no time at all that the police will start interfering in the affairs of other producers, writers, broadcasters and journalists especially in circumstances that they are portrayed to have done wrongdoings.

One day, if Albalyalde, Ano and Acosta are given the chance to influence the plot of “Ang Probinsiyano”, we will all wake up reprimanded or incarcerated for speaking against the police and the government or for failing to speak according to what they want us to say.

Beyond ABSCBN and Coco Martin, these developments are clearly an infringement of our freedom of expression and an assault to our democracy.