After taking home three awards from the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Gabi ng Parangal including the FPJ Memorial Award for Excellence, the producers of the film "Oro" are in hot water because of a controversial scene in the film which involves a dog being slaughtered.
After receiving numerous reports from concerned citizens since the film opened on December 25, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) reached out to the people behind the film and on December 26 was initially assured by the "Oro's" producer that no animal was harmed or killed during the making of the movie.
After getting a report from a reliable source, PAWS Executive Director Anna Cabrera has decided to ask the MMFF Executive Board to look into the matter and request the proper sanctions which may involve pulling out the film from the festival as well as the awards given to the film as well.
Here is a copy of PAWS's letter to the MMFF:
December 31, 2016
MR. THOMAS ORBOS
Subject: ANIMAL CRUELTY IN THE FILM “ORO”
Dear Mr. Orbos:
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.
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 ruralfolk 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 (BAI) and the Committee on Animal Welfare (CAW).
As member of the CAW and chairperson of the CAW Technical Working Group of the Committee on the Humane Use of Animals in Media and Entertainment, the undersigned has - for the record – not received any information on a permit application being granted to film makers for such a scene, nor from any indigenous community seeking clearance for a ritual. The dog slaughter that occurred is illegal. If the dog killing was not deliberately filmed, as stated by Yapan, the film makers, at the very least, should have reported the incident to police so that the footage can be used as evidence and not as material for a movie.
PAWS requests an immediate investigation into the matter to determine whether the people behind this film are accessories to the crime that has occurred. The organization further requests that the film be pulled out of the cinemas until the said investigation is completed.
PAWS is ready, as always, to work with law enforcers to file criminal charges and bring animal offenders to justice.
Film makers have a responsibility to report crimes that they may have inadvertently documented. More importantly, film makers who “set up” a dog being slaughtered (or an animal being hurt) for the sake of making a movie should be made accountable for violating the law. The latter are a blight to the movie industry and should also be held accountable by their peers for their lack of compassion for animals, and for promoting a culture of indifference and callousness in society.
Very truly yours,
PAWS Executive Director