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EDITORIAL: NUJP to PNP: ‘Your duty is to protect, not curtail, our basic rights’

IN defense of the arts, freedom of expression and of the press, we are adopting for our editorial column this week the following statement issued by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on the nagging controversy that surrounds the painful truth about art imitating life as portrayed by the popular fictional teleserye, “Ang Probinsyano”:

The Philippine National Police’s hysterical protestations about how “Ang Probinsyano” portrays law enforcers is nothing short of an admission that there is nothing the institution wishes more than to dictate the flow of information and expression, in effect shaping our nation’s narrative.

As much has been acknowledged by the Department of Interior and Local Government, which supervises the PNP and whose head, Eduardo Año, is former chief of the Armed Forces. The agency has threatened to file charges against the producers of the hit television series for a slew of supposed offenses related to what Año claimed was “intentionally sending a wrong message to the public which is demoralizing the ranks of the PNP.”

Unless, that is, they changed the script.

That condition is what pushes the two officials’ complaint from ludicrous to chilling.

This is an open threat of censorship and prior restraint, violations of civil liberties explicitly prohibited by the very same Constitution these gentlemen and the people they lead are sworn to protect.

We are sure even Año and PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, unqualified as they are to be art critics, would, in their early education, have come across the adage that “art imitates life.”

Shouldn’t they, therefore, be taking a long, hard look at why the service they lead is portrayed the way it is in a work of fiction?

Surely, the constant reports of cops engaging in the very crimes they are supposed to prevent is a more credible source of demoralization within the PNP’s ranks than a teleserye whose hero is actually a policeman who seeks to cleanse the service of scalawags.

What, pray, would Año and Albayalde have the show’s producers do, portray all policemen as righteous and pure? That would take the show from the realm of fiction into outright fake news.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines will not stand idly by when the very agencies of government supposed to protect our basic rights, including free expression, which is most essential to the practice of our trade, threaten to curtail these freedoms in an attempt to force conformity with their narrow worldview.


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