The TV show

"The image and standing of the PNP should be determined by how the police performs its duty and not by how it is portrayed in a show."

The popular TV series Ang Probinsyano has come under attack from the government. First, it was the Chief of the Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde who criticized the TV series saying that it is putting the PNP in a bad light and is demoralizing the rank and file.

This was followed by former PNP Chief and now Senator Ping Lacson agreeing with the observation of the PNP Chief that the TV series is portraying the PNP leadership into something that it is not.

Now, DILG OIC former AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año is now threatening to file charges against the producers of the TV series for causing the morale of the PNP rank and file to plummet. He, however, did not present any empirical proof that the TV series is indeed causing demoralization within the police organization. He also said that conditions might have to be imposed on the way the actors wear and display the police uniform. The latest on this controversy was that a meeting between the producers and PNP Chief Albayalde will be held to see if both parties can find common ground toward a mutually agreeable solution. On the other side of the issue, former teammates Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero came out with their own statements to the effect that the TV series is simply a work of fiction and that the intelligence of the viewers should not be underestimated to distinguish between truth and fiction. There is also the issue of freedom of expression.

How exactly should the police be portrayed in movies? Should there be restrictions put on how to present the ugly side of a government agency such as the police? If there is, what are the limits? Also, shouldn’t there be proof presented when someone says that a movie plot is demoralizing the rank and file of the police? It seems that there are some people who want to make a mountain out of a molehill. It is more likely that the demoralization statement is simply the opinions of important personages in the police organization and not based on fact. Maybe these people feel very uncomfortable of plots that are unpalatable to the image of the PNP.

To be fair, I do not think that they want a squeaky clean image of the PNP to be presented; they just want plots that are closer to reality. But here in lies the problem. The job of the writers of the series is to be able to maintain the ratings of the show by presenting interesting plots and counter plots that will keep viewers on their toes. Otherwise, the series will not last very long.

When everything is said and done, those feeling so uncomfortable should remember that the show is simply a work of fiction even if at times, art starts to imitate life. In dealing with this sort of situation, our police leaders must be careful not to overreact. Putting restrictions on the TV series will do more harm than good. As Senator Grace Poe puts it correctly, regardless of the unpleasantness of some plots in the TV series, the whole reason of the Ang Probinsyano is about the dedication to duty of the principal character which should negate the unpalatable plots in the series.

In many TV series not only here but around the world notably the United States, some people in the police organizations are always being presented in bad light but this is negated by the dedication of the principal characters of the series. Unfortunately, unlike in the United States wherein members of the military and police are always being surveyed to determine their needs and what they think on certain issues, we do not do that here. The leaders of our uniformed services are therefore missing out on an important tool of management: To be in possession of data on which decisions are based.

So, whether the TV series is demoralizing the police or not, the PNP leadership must back its assertions with facts. Maybe next time, the SWS and Pulse Asia should be allowed to do a survey within the PNP to validate this demoralization issue and put to an end once and for all.

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Perhaps what the producers should do is to limit the story to a certain command level. Since the principal character happens to be an SPO3 which is low in the totem pole, the plot should not go beyond the regional command level. A four-star officer in the story would seem to be overblown because in real life, officers that high in rank do not ordinarily get into the details of what an SPO3 is engaged in.

Maybe this was what Senator Lacson meant when he said that a certain plot is being presented that depicts the PNP leadership in a way that does not conform to what happens in real life. The good senator seems to want art to imitate life, not the other way around. But this is putting restrictions to the creativity of the screen writers which is something we all want to avoid. If the series producers are made to do away with the liberal use of artistic license and stick to what the PNP leadership wants, my prediction is that the series will not last very long. The best solution is to leave the show alone.

The image and standing of the PNP in Philippine society should be determined by how the police performs its duty and not by how it is portrayed in a show. If an organization is rotten, no matter how it is deodorized, it would still be rotten.

Topics: Florencio Fianza , The TV show , Ang Probinsyano , Philippine National Police , PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde
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