The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2016 Executive Committee resolved to prohibit Oro from showing the film's controversial dog-slaughter scene in theaters.
In an official statement sent to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) today, January 4, the festival committee said that Oro creators were formally asked to delete the scene and submit a new digital cinema package (DCP) to theaters.
The festival committee, however, was non-committal about the latest allegation by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) that Oro creators "lied" when they said that no live dog was killed during the shoot.
MMFF 2016 Execom's statement, sent through festival spokesperson Noel Ferrer, partly read:
"Pursuant to the agreement reached by the lawyers representing both PAWS and ORO, a new DCP in keeping with animal welfare will be submitted for showing plus affidavit of support for human and animal rights and welfare alike.
"In the meantime, out of prudence, no showing in theaters of the present version, and without prejudice to the law taking its course re: finding the competent authorities on whether or not an animal was killed in the course, or in connection with the filming of Oro."
MMFF 2016 Execom also said that it does not condone any act of animal cruelty:
"Neither will it allow the Festival to be the vehicle for any such actions."
The festival committee earlier withdrew the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence given to Oro at the MMFF 2016 Awards Night last December 29.
PAWS TO FILE LEGAL ACTION VS. ORO FILMMAKERS. Meanwhile, PAWS remains firm about filing legal charges against people involved in the "live" dog slaughter in the festival entry.
In its official statement, PAWS alleged that Oro filmmakers violated Republic Act No. 8485 or Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
"The director, producer, crew, and (possibly) the actors and extras, violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by procuring a dog for slaughter, and actually having it killed—whether by them directly or by some other people—for the movie."
The animal protection group also said that it that the killing of a live dog was indeed shown in Oro, based on the MMFF 2016 Execom investigative meeting of Monday, January 2.
Present in the meeting were filmmakers of Oro, as well as representatives from PAWS.
Below is the full statement of PAWS, published on its official Facebook account last night, January 3:
"In yesterday’s investigative meeting with the MMFF Executive Committee (the ORO team and the PAWS representatives were met by the MMFF ExeCom separately), several things were established:
"1. The ORO filmmakers lied to the MMFF Screening Committee. When the filmmakers were asked repeatedly during the initial screening of the film if the dog was harmed in the scene, they said 'No.'
"But during the inquiry yesterday, the filmmakers eventually admitted that the live dog shown at the start of the controversial scene and the dead dog being gutted is one and the same.
"2. The filmmakers maintained that they (director, producer, actors & crew) did not kill the dog. They just happened upon the killing as this was a regular occurrence in the location where they were
"Note: PAWS Board Member Rich Ilustre, a director himself, made the observation that using actual footage of dog killing and editing it seamlessly into a scene with actors is extremely difficult.
"A copy of the ORO script that PAWS was able to secure yesterday showed that the graphic dog-killing segment was indeed part of the scene.
"And based on the final edited film, the production obviously planned how to properly stage the scene (the actors were blocked, the set was lit and the cameras and mics were positioned) to obtain the needed shots.
"3. The killing of dogs is a crime as per RA8485 and the filmmakers did not report the illegal act after they filmed it. They also did not declare to the MMFF ExeCom that they filmed an actual crime up until they were asked again as a result of PAWS’ official request for an investigation.
"4. Director Alvin Yapan texted an MMFF ExeCom member that the production crew bought the dog.
"The dog was allegedly being sold by its owner for slaughter. This statement implies that while the filmmakers may not have had a direct hand in killing the animal, they gave the animal to dog killers knowing full well that the animal will be slaughtered.
"Killing an animal for dramatic purposes or entertainment is ethically reprehensible.
"The director, producer, crew, and (possibly) the actors and extras, violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by procuring a dog for slaughter, and actually having it killed - whether by them directly or by some other people - for the movie.
"The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or RA 8485, as amended by RA 10631 imposes a penalty of 2 years and 1 day to 3 years imprisonment, and/or a fine not exceeding P250,000 if the offense is committed by an person who makes business out of cruelty to an animal.
"This is no different from illegal 'crush' videos where animals are procured to be "crushed" and tortured on video. In 'crush' videos, animal cruelty is purposely committed and documented to be sold to willing viewers.
"The only difference between the people behind 'crush' videos and the people behind ORO is that the 'crush' video producers sold videos of real acts of animal cruelty to people who were informed about what they were watching.
"Moviegoers in the MMFF as well as the MMFF ExeCom and screening committee did NOT know that when they watched ORO, what they were seeing was an actual crime being committed.
"For this, PAWS asked the MMFF ExeCom to pull out the film in cinemas, revoke all awards given and impose administrative sanctions on the director and producers of ORO.
"PAWS is preparing to file criminal case against those who killed the dog and against the people who watched/filmed the crime as it was happening and did nothing to stop it.
"Our investigation has not yet determined whether the former and the latter are one and the same.
"We call upon the actors and crew members who may have personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the killing of the dog. The non-disclosure contract that you signed is null and void as there was an immoral and criminal act that was committed.
"Please help us seek justice for the death of this dog and uphold humane standards for the use of animals in the entertainment industry.
"PAWS calls upon the MMFF ExeCom to require the ORO filmmakers to submit the raw footages of the dog killing and help us complete our investigation.
"We implore members of the entertainment industry to call out their colleagues when they commit acts of atrocities towards animals in the making of films and TV shows.
"Animals should never be harmed, killed or reduced as mere props to be discarded after the shooting of a movie.
"The Philippine entertainment industry must take an active role in the recognition of animals as sentient creatures capable of feeling fatigue, hunger and pain.
"The use of animals must be avoided as much as possible if scenes can be depicted using inanimate substitutes and computer generated imagery or CGI.
"If ever the use of live animals in a scene cannot be avoided, the animals should be treated humanely and always given the respect that should be accorded to living creatures.
"We must all collectively stand up against what the director of ORO wants us to do—to turn a blind eye against animal cruelty.
"The end does not justify the means, Mr. Alvin Yapan, and you must answer for the crime that has been committed against the dog that was killed for your movie."
ORO DIRECTOR'S JANUARY 2 STATEMENT. In a previous report, Oro director Alvin Yapan clarified that he and the rest of his staff and cast took no part in the killing of a dog that was seen in the movie.
Alvin firmly added, “Hindi ko inimbento ang metapora ng aso dito para lang pumatay ng aso sa loob ng isang pelikula para lang pag-usapan.
“Nasa tunay talagang pagsasalaysay ng testigo sa Gata 4 Massacre na bumalik siya para singilin ang Patrol Kalikasan para sa kinatay nilang aso.
“Dahil nga kumakain ng aso ang patrol kalikasan, kasi nga tradisyon ang pagpulutan ng aso sa inuman sa ilang probinsiya sa bansa.”