Benhur Abalos

What for? DILG chief Abalos makes a cameo appearance in GMA drama show

Jairo Bolledo

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What for? DILG chief Abalos makes a cameo appearance in GMA drama show

PROBE. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos attends a Senate inquiry on the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and other political killings in the country, on April 17, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The mandate of DILG, which Abalos now heads, includes the promulgation of policies related to local governments and public order and safety. Acting on television is definitely not part of it.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos appeared in a GMA Network drama show, not as an actor portraying a fictional character, but rather as himself.

Abalos, who oversees the Philippine National Police and local governments, made a cameo appearance during the May 30 episode of “Black Rider,” produced by GMA’s Public Affairs. The start of Abalos’ close to three-minute sequence showed elements of his typical day as the interior chief: donning his usual polo barong, escorted by cops as he enters a building with the DILG seal.

In the episode, the interior chief meets with Raymart Santiago’s character, “Chief Ricarte,” to discuss an anti-illegal drug operation. Abalos even tasks Santiago’s character, who is a police officer, to organize a raid.

Chief Ricarte, kailangan ko ang kooperasyon mo at ng buong kapulisan. Kailangan nating lipulin ang problema ng droga, hindi lamang dito sa Maynila, kundi sa buong bansa,” Abalos said. (Chief Ricarte, I need your cooperation, as well as of the entire police force. We need to address the drug problem, not only here in Manila, but in the entire country.)

“Black Rider” revolves around Ruru Madrid’s character, “Elias,” whose family had fallen victim to a syndicate. He called himself “Black Rider,” “a beacon of hope in a city plagued by corruption and lawlessness.”

Abalos is no stranger to television because of his mandate as interior chief. He also regularly holds press briefings, where he provides updates on a variety of issues, including anti-illegal drugs and local government concerns.

Reporters are also familiar with the way Abalos delivers his messages during press briefings – often with an emotional, if not dramatic flair. This was displayed after the assassination of broadcaster Percy Lapid in 2022, where Abalos called on former Bureau of Corrections official Ricardo Zulueta, who was among the suspects in the killing, to surrender.

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Zulueta passed away in 2024, while his former superior, Gerald Bantag, who was also implicated in the case, remains at large.

What for?

Before the episode’s airing on Thursday night, the GMA Public Affairs’ social media pages posted a teaser about Abalos’ appearance on the show.

On Facebook, most of the comments showed support for Abalos. The Facebook pages of local units of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Caraga region also shared the post. BFP is a bureau under Abalos’ watch. Meanwhile, on Instagram, the post gained mixed reactions, with some users saying that Abalos’ cameo role was a form of “campaigning.”

It’s not unusual for public officials, especially elected ones, to appear in television shows. In fact, incumbent Senator Bong Revilla, who can seek reelection in the upcoming 2025 midterm polls, appeared in GMA’s adaptation of “Walang Matigas na Pulis sa Matinik na Misis,” which started to air in 2023.

In the show, Revilla played the character of a police officer, with Beauty Gonzalez and Max Collins as his co-stars.

Abalos has not indicated any plans yet to run for elective office, although word going around is that he will be running in 2025. He is no rookie in politics because he served as Mandaluyong mayor from 1998 to 2004, and from 2007 to 2016.

The mandate of the DILG, which Abalos heads now, includes the promulgation of policies related to local governments and public order and safety. The DILG also oversees the national police and is tasked to “formulate plans, policies and programs which will meet local emergencies arising from natural and man-made disasters.”

Acting on television is definitely not part of that big mandate, and many who are all too familiar with the ways of politics can see right through that cameo role. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.