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MMFF withdraws FPJ award from ‘Oro’ for dog slaughter scene

THE Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee announced last Wednesday the withdrawal of the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award from the movie “Oro” in the wake of the controversial scene that depicted the killing of a dog.

“Upon consultation with the family of the late Fernando Poe, Jr., the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee announces the withdrawal of the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award recently granted to the film ‘Oro,’” MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer said.

“Without making any judgment on the artistic merit of the film or cinematic depiction, the MMFF finds the present controversy on the alleged killing of a dog in the course of the filming of the movie effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe, Jr.,” Ferrer also said.

The FPJ Memorial Award was made in honor of the late action king Fernando Poe, Jr. It was only introduced in 2012 with the film “One More Try” as its first recipient.

On Monday, Senator Grace Poe called on the MMFF to look into the case of animal cruelty as depicted in the film “Oro.”

“I call on the MMFF organizers to look into the matter of whether a dog was actually butchered as part of the filming of the movie ‘Oro’ in violation of the existing law on animal welfare,” said Poe in a statement.

“If in fact that were the case [if a dog was indeed killed for the film], I condemn such act and would move for the invalidation of the FPJ award given to the film,” the senator added.

Alvin Yapan, director of the movie, has repeatedly denied slaughtering a dog in the film. He expressed disappointment over the reaction of the public which is now focused on the dog rather that the real issue of the film.

The movie tells the story of a community dependent on mining. It stars Joem Bascon and Irma Adlawan, who was named Best Actress for that movie.

Animal welfare
On Jan. 2, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) met with the officials of the MMFF and “Oro” to discuss the issue. The producers of the film said that they will edit the scene out.

But Ana Cabrera, the PAWS executive director, said she was not satisfied with the meeting because of the obvious crime that was committed.

Cabrera urged the MMFF to pull out the film “Oro” from cinemas and strip them of awards.

“We are actually disappointed with the outcome kasi our request was for the film to be pulled out kahit bukas na lang ang last day… and we wanted all the awards awarded to this film pulled out. Because a crime has been committed,” said Cabrera.

Aside from the FPJ Award and Best Actress recognition, “Oro” also received the Best Ensemble Cast.

On Dec. 31, PAWS sent a letter of complaint to the MMFF regarding the scene from the movie “Oro” which killed a dog.
“PAWS has received numerous complaints about a scene depicting animal cruelty in the movie ‘Oro’. Viewers were bothered by scenes of dog being slaughtered in the film and insist that there was no way the scenes could have been faked,” the PAWS letter said.

“A few days ago, our organization communicated with Shandii Bacolod, producer of the film, who initially said that no animal was harmed or killed for the movie. Later on, on the official Facebook Page of the film, director Alvin Yapan stated that the crew ‘shot a practice among the rural folk where dogs are part of their foodfare.’”

“Killing dogs for their meat is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act or RA 8485, as amended by RA 10631. In the said national law, even the killing of dogs as part of religious ritual or ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities shall be done with proper coordination with the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Committee on Animal Welfare,” the same letter said.

The 42nd MMFF started last Dec. 25, 2016 and will wind up on Jan. 7.