The biopic of controversial former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa will be released on January 30, a few days before the official start of the campaign period.
Actor Robin Padilla, the upcoming film’s main star, announced the release date of “Bato: The Gen. Ronald dela Rosa Story” on Instagram.
He captioned it with: “Bato Bato sa Langit ang Tamaan wag Magalit!”
Padilla had been teasing his fans on social media with behind-the-scenes photos of the movie and additional details of its production.
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In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful. All praise is to God the only creator of all the heavens and the universe. Maraming maraming salamat po sa biyaya at kaligayahan o aming nag iisang Dios… pangalawa sa Panginoon akoy nagpapasalamat kay senator idol Hero Manny Pacquiao, Arnold Vegafria, Jake Joson, Betchay Vidanes, Star Cinema at Adolf Alexi. Itong mga tao na ito ang mga gumawa ng imposible at nagtrabaho para magkatuluyan kami ni senator to be General Ronald de la Rosa. Pangatlo akoy nagpapasalamat ng buong pagpapakumbaba sa mga tunay na naghirap sa shooting Production Staff, Crew, Stuntman, Extras, Security, Utility, Portalet, Tent, Catering at higit sa lahat sa mga lugar na aming pinagshootingan.Pang apat maraming salamat sa aking mga old school na kaibigan na nag guest sa pelikula.Pang lima akoy nagpapasalamat sa aking asawa @marieltpadilla at sa kanyang pulotong sa Pagpapakain ng mga tao ❤️❤️❤️ at sa Showtime sa kanilang tulong sa aking pelikula. Pang anim ay pasasalamat din sa @vidanes_cm at Regal Entertainment lalo sa aking other mother the great Mother Lily sa pagsalo sa aming pelikula sa gitna ng pagtawid sa apoy. Pang pito ay sa aming director Adolf Alexi na tunay na nagpakita ng Pagiging Kapitan ng Barko sa gitna ng malakas na malakas na bagyo at naitawid kami ng maayos hanggang makadaong. Pang walo ay kay alamat pinakamaestro tatay val iglesias at maestro Boy Roque sa pagbabantay ng detalyado sa bawat aksyon ng pelikula.Pang siyam ay sa camera crew mula sa aming cinematographer at assistant cameraman. Pang sampo ay sa RSVP crew. Sa inyong lahat isang malaking pagpupugay at pagpapasalamat. Mabuhay kayong lahat.
He first announced he will play the character of Dela Rosa during the release of the first trailer last December. When he posted the second trailer early this year, he showed that he shaved his head for the role.
Actress Beauty Gonzales will play the character of Dela Rosa’s wife. The movie was directed by award-winning director Adolfo Alix Jr. and produced by Star Cinema-Regal Entertainment.
Previously, Dela Rosa, who is running for a Senate seat in the mid-term polls, said that he is a fan of Padilla and proposed Sharon Cuneta to play the role of his wife.
Dela Rosa, as President Duterte’s top cop, is among those accused of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court of overseeing thousands of unjustified killings of mostly poor male individuals in the police’s war on drugs. The case is undergoing initial inquiry at the tribunal.
Padilla, meanwhile, has publicly aligned himself with the Duterte administration, especially in its push for a shift to a federalist government system.
What election laws say about it
The Commission on Elections warned that releasing a movie about a political candidate during the campaign period is a violation of provisions of the Fair Election Act.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that the concerns are on the release date of the movie and not on its production.
“There can be a movie. In fact, he would not be the first to do that. The problem is the exhibition of the movie after the start of the campaign period,” Jimenez said.
He said that a movie or a show about a candidate during this period gives an unfair leverage to him or her over others.
Section 6.7 of the Fair Election Act states that:
“No movie, cinematograph or documentary portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate shall likewise be publicly exhibited in a theater, television station or any public forum during the campaign period.”
Based on these terms, the biopic is not considered as an electoral offense given that the official start of the election campaign period is still on February 12.
However, the law does not provide provisions against campaigning before this period, hence, the loophole that many aspirants have since taken advantage of.
The Supreme Court even ruled that premature campaigning is not a prohibited act.
While there may be no hard sell to vote for Dela Rosa in the movie, it is still a boost of popularity of his name to the public.
Political biopics: A brief look
Biopics, or films on the life of an individual living or dead, used to follow a linear narrative based on events that actually occurred. In recent decades, however, viewers are advised to take biopics with a pinch of salt as they use “invention, and even lies, to tell [a person’s] stories.”
Scholars and film critics warn that most biopics try to do the impossible: condense the entire life of an individual into an half and a half of film. The tendency is to oversimplify or to paint the public figure being depicted as either hero or villain.
“Contradictions, imperfections…which are a part of all of us, are also a part of these public figures. But the film cannot afford—especially in the age of moral policing and mob censure—to show these, can it?” Pramod Nayar, a professor of cultural studies at the University of Hyderabad, tells News Laundry.
These characteristics also make biopics a tool for politics or even propaganda. In Hollywood, film scholars and critics are on the watch for political films a year before election season. Filmmakers are known to play a role in putting issues and advocacy on the spotlight during campaign period.