The Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government want to twist the plot of a popular primetime television series so that it reflects a positive view of cops.
PNP Director-General Oscar Albayalde reportedly sent a letter to the people behind “Ang Probinsyano,” which airs on ABS-CBN, requesting a meeting with its writers.
Meanwhile, the chief of the DILG, Eduardo Año, says the portrayal of cops as involved in crime affects the morale of policemen and influences the public. It is unfair, he says, because many police officers lay their lives on the line for their job of protecting civilians. The DILG has administrative supervision over the PNP.
“We don’t want the show stopped; we just want it to change its plot,” he said in an interview with Rappler.
These words would be laughable if the two officials weren’t too serious.
First, the show never purported to be anything else than a work of fiction. It has never claimed to reflect any specific event or person in the real-life police force.
Second, to meddle with this will not help this administration in fending off accusations of a creeping dictatorship and suppression of basic freedoms.
Third, it assumes that those who are watching the show are stupid.
Of course there have been instances when screen personalities have influenced people’s perception of actors themselves. This has been responsible for the political success of those whose only qualification is their stature on popular culture. Actors who play heroic or charismatic roles have been known to launch careers in public service.
But it is not as if news of irregular or outright criminal behavior of the police is something new to the people, before they have seen even an episode of “Ang Probinsyano.” Does the PNP not have no less than a transformation program, an acknowledgment that some things are in desperate need for change? Have we not heard of crimes committed by those who are supposed to make us feel safe in the first place—killings of drug suspects, for instance, or sex-for-freedom schemes?
We do not intend to discount the virtues of the truly honest and honorable cops. But it is ridiculous to insist that they be portrayed in any particular way for entertainment purposes. All this just makes us wonder why the PNP and DILG heads seem to have a lot of time in their hands that they have the luxury of ruminating on the impact of telenovelas on their image.