Threats to file charges vs “Ang Probinsyano” a form of censorship and harassment – Karapatan

The Department of Internal and Local Government (DILG) has recently considered filing a case against the popular television series “Ang Probinsyano” for its “unfair and inaccurate” portrayal of the Philippine National Police (PNP). This is among the latest expressions of paranoia of the DILG and PNP, who seek to censor programs that reflect and allude to some realities on the corruption, brutality and dire state of affairs within the police, military and government. However, the DILG and the PNP are attacking a work of fiction, instead of resolving the very real problems plaguing the police and the whole gamut of the government’s security forces. 
 
A fictional character is dealing with corruption within the government, along with a host of cronies, scalawag officers, among others. Inaccurate? The facts beg to differ. The Duterte regime's bloody war on drugs has reportedly killed at least 4,500 people, filed under the category “deaths resulting from legitimate encounters.” Some 20,000 killings more are considered “deaths under investigation.” Apart from this, police officers have also been involved in corrupt practices, and other rights violations and misconduct. Recent developments have brought to the spotlight schemes such as sex-for-freedom and rape. One perpetrator even admitted that this was something considered “standard operating procedure (SOP)” during operations. This adds to the 31 rape cases since 2012 involving 43 police officers, according to women’s rights groups. 

PNP’s statement demanding a change in the program’s plot is a blatant display of State censorship. This is akin to Marcos’ removal of animated series “Voltes V” because it ended with the triumphant overthrow of an evil empire. Current DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, in his statement threatening the filing of charges against “Ang Probinsyano” and its staff, constitutes plain harassment. This is the same course of action undertaken by the police and military against activists and individuals who openly voice out and protest against the anti-people policies of the Duterte regime.

This development also comes in the wake of other cases of harassment against those who work in visual media and film. JL Burgos, whose film “Han-ayan” was screened in public, was surveilled by a suspicious man asking personal information about him. Arbi Barbarona’s “Tu Pug Imatuy” was labelled as “a film for the NPA” by a Facebook page that incites violence against activists and advocates of freedom of expression. This is also in line with the recent blanket declaration by government authorities tagging the showing of films critical to Martial Law as part of a destabilization plot against the government.

The PNP and the government’s security forces have become the villains in the eyes of the people not because of the programs aired on television, but because of their own brutality and lack of regard for people’s rights throughout the years, especially under the Duterte regime. What remains disturbing are the spate of killings, illegal arrests, abductions, and harassment. These heinous acts against the Filipino people are covered up, instead of resolved. 

Karapatan questions and condemns these repressive moves by government forces and agencies. They should stop being so obsessed with their already notorious image, and instead start adhering to their mandate to genuinely serve and protect the Filipino people. We likewise demand accountability from the PNP and the DILG for its countless violations against individuals and entire communities who have been subjected to terror amid the government’s anti-people programs and campaigns.