MTRCB keeps mum on Eat Bulaga’s Muslim costume ‘mockery’ controversy

Movies and Television Review and Classification Board (MRTCB) seems to zip its mouth over the Eat Bulaga’s Muslim costume controversy, even if ARMM government wants a public apology.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted on facebook that the ARMM government “takes offense at and is appalled by the stunt pulled on national TV by noontime show ‘Eat Bulaga’ on Saturday, Oct. 3 where hosts Joey de Leon and Sen. Tito Sotto came out dressed as Muslims for their Halloween special.”

In a statement issued by the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information, Hataman said the costumes of De Leon and Sotto were an affront to Muslims. “What ‘Eat Bulaga’ did in its Halloween special was a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim, apparently in the name of entertainment,” he said.

De Leon and Sotto each wore a keffiyeh (headdress) and a thawb (ankle-length, long-sleeved garment), which are typical among Middle Eastern or Arab men, including non-Muslims. The thawb is also worn by Filipino Muslims on very special occasions, like Eid al-Fitr (end of the fasting month of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) prayer.

Netizens cry over this issue of disrespect on cultural difference displayed in national television and believe that MTRCB should summon the noontime show executives to discuss the costume issue.

It could be remembered that Eat Bulaga’s rival show It’s Showtime was summoned by the review body after  Gabriela asked the noontime show’s executive producer to stop airing the Ms. Pastillas segment, saying that they are “consistent in [Gabriela’s] statement that competition to sell the show and the ratings war should not be done at the expense of women.”

Sotto, who is seeking for re-election, defended himself and said“(There’s) nothing to apologize for. And remind them, hindi Muslim garb yun, Arab! And there are many Arabs who liked it. Why will we apologize for something they like?”

“And as long as you are not disrespecting what you wear, there is nothing wrong. I suggest the people complaining should find out more about the origin of Halloween so they will not have misplaced sensitivities,” he added.