No airtime given for Erap biopic in Plaza Miranda


Former President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada is facing an uphill battle in getting his film biography shown publicly, particularly in Plaza Miranda.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza is banning the exhibition of Ang Mabuhay para sa Masa in Plaza Miranda, according to a news report published on October 6 on manilatimes.net, the official web site of the Manila Times. The movie is a biopic of Erap, who was a film star before he became mayor, senator, vice president, and eventually, president of the country.

After being screened twice by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the panel—headed by chairperson Consoliza Laguardia—gave the documentary an XXX rating on the first screening and an X rating on its second screening. The last rating effectively bans the Estrada newsreel from exhibition in movie houses and over television.

The Philippine Senate web site (senate.gov.ph), on October 3, posted a press release that reported Senate Committee for Finance head Franklin Drilon asking Laguardia in a budget hearing of the MTRCB to explain the triple-X rating given to the Erap biopic. The same press statement said Laguardia responded by explaining that the "triple X" meant that the biopic was unfit for public viewing.

Manila City Hall’s Information Officer Eric Cham, in an interview with YES! Online, said: “We are not allowing it [Erap biopic] based on the MTRCB ratings. The [MTRCB is] not allowing it on theatres, we can’t allow it here [Plaza Miranda] also.”

Eric Cham said he was speaking on Mayor Lito Atienza’s behalf.

The Manila Standard Today on August 31 reported that Estrada’s lawyers argued against the MTRCB ruling. They said that the Ang Mabuhay para sa Masa documentary is a newsreel, and as such was beyond the scope of the MTRCB. The lawyers also said that they still had the option to show the documentary over DVD, 3G cellphones, the Internet, and in public exhibitions in the provinces.

At present, the video of Ang Mabuhay para sa Masa is available for download, in four parts, on Estrada’s web site (erap.ph).

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