Friday, March 3, 2017

Camarines Sur solon formally calls for House probe on 'Oro' MMFF film row
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, March 2 (PNA) -- Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte has formally asked the House of Representatives to look into the latest Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) row involving an act of animal cruelty in one of the official entries to the annual competition December last year.

In House Resolution 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 film entry “Oro.”

Villafuerte said the graphic dog slaughter scene in “Oro” caused 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 given to the film.

He said as the incident has called the attention of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, the world’s largest animal rights organization, it cast a bad light on the film industry and animal welfare condition in the country.

Villafuerte said because of this, he has requested the MMFF executive committee to have the awards garnered by the film withdrawn.

He noted that the MMFF withdrew the FPJ award because the dog’s killing in the course of the film shoot cast a doubt on the film’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the veteran thespian who later became a candidate for Philippine president prior to his death.

Villafuerte said he called for the inquiry as representatives of “Oro’s” production team gave conflicting accounts about the dog slaughter.

He said one version claimed the animal killed was a goat with some prosthetics while another assured the head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines that no dog was killed in the movie.

And in yet another one version, the producers said before the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) that a dog had been slaughtered during filming, according to the congressman.

He said representatives of the production team of “Oro” acknowledged receiving 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 added 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 while the other animal was accidentally suffocated when placed inside a sack.

The Camarines Sur solon cited PAWS which believes the production team of “Oro” has violated Republic Act 10631, also known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

Prior to filing of the resolution, Villafuerte alleged that on top of violating Republic Act 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 in Caramoan, Camarines Sur on which the movie was supposed to have been based.

Villafuerte, who had served for three successive terms as governor of Camarines Sur, said film authorities must ban the movie's screening altogether in protest over “its blatant violation of the Animal Welfare Act and its “fallacious portrayal” of everyday life in Caramoan Island.

He said 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.”

The events on which “Oro” was based was reported by the PNA, its archives showing the news report was filed on March 25, 2014.

PNA had reported on the arrest of seven suspects in the massacre of four miners in Gota, identified as a sub-village in Caramoan, Camarines Sur.

The report, which was filed from the headquarters of the Police Regional Office (PRO5) in Bicol, based in Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City, said joint operatives of the Caramoan Municipal Police Office and the Camarines Sur Provincial Police Security Company made the arrests.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, who was then PRO5 director, identified the suspects as Angelo Refran, Servillano Espares Jr., Luis Palaganas Jr., Saetiel Pielago, Jonah Bolima, Florencio Vargas and group leader Francisco Tria III -- all members of Sagip Kalikasan, the environmental watchdog of the provincial government.

PNA said “the seven were suspects in the Sunday killing of Julio Lobiano, Rene Lobiano, Salem Virtuz and Jesse Brondia – all miners and residents ng Barangay Gota.”

The report said the suspects were arrested at “4 p.m.

Monday after the police received information that the men they were after were going to Sitio Gota, Barangay Ilawod, Caramoan.”

One suspect named Joel Breso alias Bay was able to escape and now the object of a police manhunt, the PNA report added.

The unspoiled beauty and white sand beaches in Gota had earned fame, especially for Caramoan and Camarines Sur, which became a favored destination of domestic and foreign visitors, and put the province in the tourism map as one of the top five tourist spots in the Philippines.

This came about after the international reality TV series “Survivor,” that was produced by a French television production company, set the locale for its own version of the series in Gota. This, after it secured help and permission from the provincial government of Camarines Sur at that time. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JME/CBD