By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY --- Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte has formally asked the House of Representatives to pry into the latest Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) scandal involving an allegedly blatant act of animal cruelty in one of the official entries to last yearend’s annual competition.
In House Resolution No. 675, Villafuerte called on the appropriate House committee to conduct an inquiry into the “alleged animal cruelty exploits” by the production team of the MMFF official entry film “Oro.”
Villafuerte said the graphic dog slaughter scene in “Oro” has caused so much public condemnation that the MMFF
executive committee was eventually forced to stop its public screening and even recall the Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) Memorial Award that was given to the film.
“The incident has called the attention of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, the world’s largest animal rights organization, therefore shedding a bad light on the film industry and the animal welfare condition in the country, and has requested the MMFF Executive Committee to have the awards garnered by the film withdrawn,” Villafuerte said in his resolution.
He noted that the MMFF withdrew the FPJ award because “the killing of the dog in the course of the filming effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe Jr.”
In calling for the probe, Villafuerte said representatives of the production team of “Oro” have given conflicting accounts about the dog slaughtered in the movie, with one version claiming that the animal killed was a goat with some prosthetics, another assuring the head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) that no dog was killed in the movie, and in yet another one admitting before the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) that a dog had been slaughtered during the film shoot.
“The representatives of the production team of ‘Oro’ acknowledged that they received a recommendation to put a disclaimer in the movie that ‘no animal was harmed during the filming’ but chose not to follow the recommendation,” Villafuerte also said.
He recalled that an actress in the movie, Japo Parcero, posted on social media that two dogs had actually died during filming—the one used for the slaughter scene and the other accidentally suffocated when it was placed inside a sack.
PAWS, Villafuerte said, believes that the production team of “Oro” violated Republic Act 10631, also known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
Before filing the resolution, Villafuerte said that on top of violating RA 10631, the film producers and director also committed another serious violation-- the distortion of the facts and events that transpired in 2014 in the small-scale gold-mining community of Barangay Gata, on which the movie was supposed to have been based.
Villafuerte, who had served for three successive terms as governor of Camarines Sur, said that film authorities must ban the movie’s screening altogether in protest over its blatant violation of the Animal Welfare Act and its revisionist or “fallacious portrayal” of everyday life in Camarines Sur’s Caramoan Island.
“The film is nothing but political propaganda masquerading as cinematic art in which the highly respected actors that took part in it plus the film crew were unwittingly used to present an alternate universe of events that never happened in Caramoan Island two years ago,” Villafuerte said.