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MTRCB looks into concern over depiction of Muslims in ‘Batang Quiapo’ TV series

The MTRCB said it is currently working on guidelines that are responsive to the cultural and religious sensitivities of Filipino Muslim viewers

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) said it has looked into the “concern” raised by a legislator over the depiction of Muslim characters in the television series “Batang Quiapo.”

The Board said it is “mindful that discriminatory and offensive portrayals of Filipino Muslims harm our Muslim brothers and sisters and also runs counter” to the call of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for “national unity.”

“Batang Quiapo” is an action drama television series broadcast by the Kapamilya Channel and stars actor Coco Martin. It is based on the 1986 action-comedy film of the same title starring Fernando Poe Jr. and Maricel Soriano.

The series premiered on the network’s Primetime Bida evening block, Cine Mo!, A2Z Primetime Weeknights, and TV5’s Todo Max Primetime Singko, and worldwide via The Filipino Channel and Kapatid Channel on February 13, 2023.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong, however, raised concern over the depiction of Muslim characters in a recent episode of the action television series.

He said he is “disheartened” by one episode of the series where “Muslim characters are depicted as harboring and condoning theft, under the pretext of using stolen goods to help others.”

The Mindanao congressman described the episode as “discriminatory, harmful, and derogatory.”

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“I am deeply saddened by this discriminating portrayal,” he said, adding that “It is crucial to note that Islam does not coddle theft and considers it a major sin.”

“It is dispiriting that the few moments Muslims are portrayed in popular media are usually rehashed and outdated stereotypes,” read the legislator’s statement.

He said “such harmful stereotypes … have no place in our society.”

Adiong said the Muslim community in the country 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,” he said.

“In a time when the world is already grappling with hate speech and extremism, popular media must strive for better representation of Muslims,” said the congressman.

The MTRCB said it is currently working on institutionalizing television and motion picture guidelines and policies that are responsive to the cultural and religious sensitivities of Filipino Muslim viewers.

The Board said the production company behind “Batang Quiapo” has already apologized to the MTRCB and “committed to closely coordinate with the [Board] to ensure similar incidents are avoided in the future.”

The MTRCB said it will issue a notice to the networks concerned to ensure that depictions of Filipino Muslims in their programs “honor the culture, society, and special values of Islam and the Filipino Muslim community.”

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