Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio has spoken up on the agency’s decision to summon the producers of the noontime show It’s Showtime over its hosts’ alleged “indecent acts” in a past episode.
In a press release dated last July 28, 2023, MTRCB announced that it issued a Notice to Appear and Testify to the It’s Showtime showrunners following complaints concerning “scenes that portrayed alleged indecent acts” done by its hosts Vice Ganda and Ion Perez, who are also a couple in real life.
The scene happened during the show’s “Isip Bata” segment that featured kids and aired last Tuesday, July 25.
During the segment, Vice and Ion shared a “sweet” moment licking cake icing from each other’s fingers.
This elicited mixed reactions from viewers, which was then followed by the MTRCB’s latest directive to the producers of the program.
Meanwhile, It’s Showtime fans and netizens came to the defense of the couple and criticized the board’s decision to flag their interaction, which they deemed to be an “overreaction” or a possible “conflict of interest,” seeing that the MTRCB chair is the daughter of former Senate President Tito Sotto III, a host from the rival program E.A.T. on TV5.
Twitter users also questioned a recent episode of E.A.T., where Tito peppered his wife Helen Gamboa with kisses on live television, and dared Lala to investigate her parents’ actions.
In an exclusive interview with veteran columnist Cristy Fermin on Wednesday, August 2, Lala spoke up on the issues being leveled at MTRCB and her position as its chair.
Cristy asked, “Ano ang pakiramdam ng isang anak na tulad mo nung makita mo ang daddy at mommy mo na nagbibiruan at lambingan sa E.A.T.?”
According to Lala, she and her siblings had grown accustomed to her parents’ displays of affection.
She considered it normal for a husband and his wife to express it publicly.
“Lumaki po kasi akong gano’n, na halos araw araw ng buhay naming magkakapatid mapa sa telebisyon, maski saan. Mula po noong bata kami. They have been married for 55 years now,” she shared.
Lala went on to explain the events that led to the MTRCB order.
“Nagsimula po ito mula dahil sa problema na natanggap namin at mula rin po sa monitoring inspection unit namin which is yung paglabag sa mga [alituntunin] ng MTRCB, sa paglabag ng Presidential’s Decree 1986 ng programang It’s Showtime,” Lala explained.
“Nakarating din po sa’min na may konting mga reklamo na ako raw ay unfair, hindi patas, hindi ko raw pinapatawag E.A.T.,” she added.
However, she emphasized, “Wala pong dahilan para ipatawag ang E.A.T. dahil ‘di po sila deserving for a notice to appear.”
“Malinaw na walang anumang hindi angkop na nangyari sa binanggit na kilos ng aking mga magulang sa programang E.A.T. Wala rin po silang nilabag at gabay ng MTRCB kaya hindi po dapat bigyan ng Notice To Appear at hindi dapat ipatawag ang E.A.T.”
She reiterated that they had issued the notice instead to It’s Showtime which she described as a PG-rated live noontime variety program.
“Ang klasipikasyong PG, which is Parental Guidance, ay nagkaroon ng paglabag lalo na at may mga maliliit na bata who were physically present, maliban sa mga batang nanonood mula sa kani-kanilang tahanan na wala namang bantay lahat,” she explained.
When asked how they dealt with the complaints they received, Lala responded by detailing MTRCB’s complaint system which she said they practice with the “spirit of fairness”.
“Ang MTRCB ay isang quasi-judicial body. We are also a national government agency, ibig sabihin meron kaming sariling proseso, meron kaming sariling due process,” she said.
“Hindi naman porke’t may isang nag-complain ay bibigyang patotohanan na agad ito,” she explained. “We act on complaints but we need complete information.”
When asked if she was affected by the backlash from fans condemning her actions as the MTRCB chair and the daughter of E.A.T.’s mainstay Tito, Lala stood her ground and said, “Ako po ay nilagay dito ng Panginoon to perform and do my duties as a Christian, as a daughter, as a mother, and as a Filipino citizen.”
The MTRCB chairwoman ended the interview with a message to her parents.
“Patuloy sana ang inyong pagmamahal sa isa’t-isa na maging magandang halimbawa sa ating minamahal na kababayan dahil isa po sa mandato ng MTRCB is to deliver Filipino family values-based media and entertainment,” Lala said.
“Kaya naniniwala ako at maninidigan ako na ang aking mga magulang ay mga napakabuting ehemplo ng isang matinong marriage o pagsasama na punong puno ng pagmamahal,” she added.