MTRCB: Social media savvy, not scissor-wielding censors

Kai Magsanoc
Newly-appointed chair Eugenio Villareal says his main thrust is 'matalinong panonood'

'MATALINONG PANONOOD.' New MTRCB Chair Eugenio Villareal aka Chair Toto beams at the media after he formally faced them for the first time on December 10. Photo and video by Kai Magsanoc

MANILA, Philippines – Maka-Diyos. Makabansa. Masipag. Malikhain.

This, according to newly-appointed Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chair Eugenio Villareal, is the kind of Filipino that the MTRCB wants to hone and empower.

In a press conference on December 10 at the Adjudication Room of the MTRCB office in Quezon City, Chair Toto — as he prefers to be called — faced the press for the first time since his appointment to the post on December 6. His term will end in September 2013.

Villareal replaces Grace Poe-Llamanzares who resigned to run for a seat in the Senate in 2013.

“Under her watch, we did our best, she did her best,” Villareal said when asked about continuing Poe-Llamanzares’ legacy. “There are many scenarios we still have to face, and we are ready for them.”

One achievement of the previous MTRCB chair is the addition of the classifications SPG (Strong Parental Guidance/Striktong Patbunay at Gabay) in television and R-16 (strictly for 16 years and older) in the movies.

The MTRCB now also allows the “director’s cut” version and other versions of a particular film.

Villareal said the next step is to inform the barangays all over the Philippines about these new ratings. “That’s the next phase,” he said. “We will make ourselves more responsive and relevant.”

He also said that his office will continue to receive complaints, information and comments from the general public every day and will continue to evaluate and act on them, with due process.

Social media savvy

Villareal said his office is active on social media through their Facebook page and Twitter account, @mtrcb_ph.

“People can reach us faster on Twitter,” he said.

“This is a sign that our citizenry is empowered,” he continued, adding that the MTRCB has deputies in schools, among students, and specially among parents.

“One of the greatest qualifications to be involved in the work of the MTRCB is to be a mom,” Villareal said. “That’s another thrust we established under the watch of Chair Poe-Llamanzares and Vice-Chair Maning Borlaza.”

Matalinong panonood

When asked to define this thrust, Chairman Villareal quickly replied, “The value that all of us value — the simple notion of what is right or wrong. Do not do unto others what we do not want done to us.”

He asked everyone to think like a parent of a child who is watching something on television or in the movies.

“We should ask ourselves, Is it appropriate to his age? What is the theme behind what he is watching? What is being discussed in the program?” said Villareal. 

“We should empower our countrymen to watch this way and not just to accept or watch what is placed before them on TV or in the movies.”

He stressed that the MTRCB is not composed of scissor-wielding censors who cut materials in their office all day. “What we want is that each producer and network who knows our regulations and the law will weigh their decisions,” Villareal said.

“We will then classify their material as G (General Patronage), PG (Parental Guidance), SPG (Strict Parental Guidance).”

For films, this translates to:

  • R-13 (Strictly for 13 years and older)
  • R-16 (Strictly for 16 years and older)
  • R-18 (Strictly for 18 years and older) 
  • X (Not for public viewing).

The Best Practices conference

In addressing complaints by a viewer about a television show, Villareal said that they have, for a few months now, been holding what he calls the Best Practices conference.

“We don’t adjudicate immediately,” he said. “We respect the business of networks.”

“To assist with the development of self-regulation, we ask the program executives to come over in a get-together like this,” Vilarreal said, gesturing around the room. “We discuss the complaint of the fan or viewer.”

“Then the producers give us a list of resolutions on how to improve their program. That makes it a win-win situation.”

Self-regulation, after all, is one of the thrusts of the MTRCB.

“That has been a goal for the longest time,” Villareal admitted. “In our studies, it’s easy to say ‘self-regulation’ but a responsibility comes with it. 

“When you self-regulate, you should be ready for public criticism.”

On political ads

When asked about the role that the MTRCB may play when it comes to dealing with illegal election campaign material disguised as television (or even cinema) commercials, Villareal said that he and Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr have not discussed the matter.

“From what I know, the Comelec may deputize any government agency like the police, the KBP regarding these matters,” Villareal said.

“We are ready to cooperate with them, so long as the tasks are in line with our mandate which is to review and classify.”

The violation of election laws is under the jurisdiction of the Comelec.

Villareal admitted that he has large shoes to fill. At the end of the day, he and his board just want the MTRCB to be responsive.

“Our board is intact. Bibeth Orteza Siguion-Reyna is just returning to fill in my place in the board,” he said.

“We’re intact, we’re a team. We’re raring to go and serve the people.” –

(The MTRCB launched a donation drive for Pablo over the weekend of December 8. They request that the donations be in kind. Donations can be dropped off at the MTRCB office at #18 Timog Avenue, Quezon City. Tel no 3767380 loc. 136.)