'Culture of fear': Actors' group slams ABS-CBN shutdown, FDCP guidelines
MANILA, Philippines – A new organization which counts actors Dingdong Dantes, Iza Calzado, Angelica Panganiban, Janine Gutierrez, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, and Cherry Pie Picache as members, slammed the shutdown against media giant ABS-CBN and film production guidelines crafted by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
During an online discussion titled Go, Glow and Grow! aired on the Film Workers Unite Facebook page on Wednesday, July 1, Dingdong Dantes read the newly-formed group AKTOR, League of Filipino Actors' statement criticizing both government inaction during the coronavirus crisis and the issues that it did choose to focus on even as the crisis drags on.
In the statement, Dantes singled out the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the gaps in the government's plan in battling COVID-19, rising unemployment, the FDCP's newly-released guidelines, and the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill.
"Bakit ganoon na lamang ang kalakaran? Ang mga ito ba ay sintomas ng mas malalang sakit na kasabay ng COVID-19? Hindi maiiwasang isipin na ang lahat ng mga nangyayari ay may iisang layunin."
(Why are things done this way? Are these symptoms of a disease developing alongside COVID-19? It becomes easy to conclude that this things happen with one goal in mind.)
"Ang lahat ng mga utos na ito ay may layunin kontrolin ang daloy ng at esensya ng pagku-kuwento: ang mapigilan ng papahayag ng mga tunay na kwento ng bayan," Dantes read.
(All these moves point to the desire to control the essense of story-telling: to stop us from telling the Filipino story.)
"Ipinapahayag namin ang mariing pagtutol sa anumang batas at kautusan na sumasagka sa aming malayang paglikha. Tinatanggihan namin ang anumang panghihimasok sa mga proseso ng industriya nang walang tunay na konsultasyon sa mga manggagawa nito. Iginigiit namin na dapat bukas at malaya ang anumang daluyan ng impormasyon at likhang sining para sa kapakanan ng higit na nakakarami."
(We strongly oppose any law or order that curtails our freedom to create. We reject any move to meddle in the industry's processes without any true consultation with its workers. We demand the open flow of any exchange of information and the creative arts for the betterment of the majority.)
"Nananalig kami sa kakayahan ng manlilikhang Pilipino na baguhin ang takbo ng kwento, iparating sa mga kinauukulan ang pinakanapapanahong sentimyentong Pilipino na siyang dapat bigyang pangunahing pansin at ibalik ang kapangyarihan sa tunay na bida ng bansa, ang mamamayan."
(We believe in the capability of the Filipino creative to change the narrative; to draw our leaders' attention to the Filipino's sentiments, which should be of utmost importance; and to bring the power back to the real star of the country, the ordinary Filipino.)
AKTOR was established on May 30, 2020 to create a community of "conscientious artists" who will fight to craft "new stories to help build a better country." The group admitted it's been a while actors organized themselves to speak out on current events.
"Madalas itinuturing na lamang ang karamihan ng mga aktor na mga manika at tau-tauhan na panlibang at nagdudulot ng saya. Dala na din siguro to ng maling pagunawa sa totoong kalagayan ng mga actor sa kabuuan."
(Often, actors are seen as mere dolls and sources of entertainment and amusement. Perhaps, it's also because of a wrong understanding of an actor's role in society.)
"Tapusin na natin ang ganoong pananaw. Tumitindig ang AKTOR ngayon bilang responsable at mahalagang bahagi ng lipunan at kinatawan ng industriya."
(It's time to end this kind of thinking. AKTOR stands as a responsible and important member of society and representative in the industry.)
Watch AKTOR's statement, as read by Dantes, here: (He begins speaking at the 01:21:00 mark)
Dantes said the statement is only the first of the group's planned engagement in issues concerning the entertainment industry and beyond.
"Alam 'nyo madaming bumabatikos sa aming mga aktor kung bakit daw kami parati nakikisawsaw sa mga usaping panglipunan or politikal. Pero ngunit may karapatan man kayo bumatikos sa amin, nais namin ipaalala na ang proteksyon sinisiguro ng Saligang Batas sa malayang pagsalita at pamamahayag ay para sa lahat ng mamamayan.
(A lot of people criticize actors for speaking up on societal and political issues. While you have the right to criticize us, we want to remind you that the freedom of speech and expression, as enshrined in the Constitution, is for all.)
"Ang karapatan ay hindi lamang konsepto or kaisipan. Ito'y dapat na buhay sa diwa ng buhay ng Pilipino ng isang demokrasya." (A right isn't just a concept or a thought. It should be lived in our daily lives as Filipinos in a democracy.)
AKTOR's members also include Khalil Ramos, Gabby Eigenmann, Michael de Mesa, and Agot Isidro.
Dantes was among the guests in the online discussion moderated by actress Agot Isidro. They were also joined by members of the Inter-Guild Alliance (IGA).
The IGA is composed of several organizations, including the Director's Guild of the Philippines, Ang Lupon ng Pilipinong Sinematograpo, Production Designer Technical Working Group, Assembly of Assistant Directors and Script Supervisors, TV and Film Screenwriters Collective, Alliance of Producers, Line Producers and Production Managers, Sound Speed Philippines, and Filipino Film Editors.
On June 27, the council announced the "Clarificatory Guidelines on the FDCP-DOH-DOLE Joint Administrative Order No. 2020-001 on the Health and Safety Protocols on the Conduct of Film and AV Production Shoots.” According to the new advisory, productions companies must register their scheduled production with the FDCP and Deparment of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ahead of time.
The Directors Guild of the Philippines was the first organization to reject the guidelines, followed by the IGA.
The IGA earlier drafted a set of proposed guidelines, which the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association (PMPPA) approved to use.
ABS-CBN signed off on May 5 after the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order because Congress failed to act on its franchise extension. The House, on June 29, resumed hearings to discuss the network's franchise. On June 30, however, the NTC issued two more orders to force ABS-CBN to shut down Sky Direct and TV Plus services.
ABS-CBN, the country's biggest media corporation, employs nearly 11,000 employees. The company earlier said it might have to begin laying off workers beginning August. – Alexa Villano/Rappler.com