MANILA — Senator Francis ‘TOL’ N. Tolentino cautioned that permitting the local release of the movie ‘Barbie’ would have adverse consequences on the reputation of the Republic of the Philippines.

“Not only would this be detrimental to the Republic of the Philippines, but it would also contradict what our country fought for and achieved through the Arbitral Ruling in 2016,” Tolentino, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, stated in an interview on CNN Philippines.

He further added, “What would be the impact? Something that would undermine our sovereignty.”

Tolentino expressed these concerns after previously urging the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to prevent the upcoming screening of the Barbie movie, which was directed and produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film includes a digital portrayal of a scene featuring the disputed ‘nine-dash line’—China’s basis for claiming territorial control and militaristic expansion in the South China Sea (SCS) region, encompassing the West Philippine Sea (WPS) area.

In 2016, The Hague Tribunal invalidated China’s ‘nine-dash line doctrine’ over the entire SCS region following an arbitration case initiated by the Philippine government on January 22, 2013. China’s unilateral encroachment with the nine-dash line infringed upon the territories of other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“The Arbitral Ruling clearly established that China’s claim here lacks legal foundation,” emphasized Tolentino.

The Vietnamese government has already decided to completely ban the screening of Barbie after a review raised concerns about the depiction of the nine-dash line scene.

According to Tolentino, it is within the MTRCB’s purview to decide whether to prohibit the showing of Barbie, similar to their actions in 2019 and 2022 when they disallowed the local screening of the films ‘Abominable’ and ‘Uncharted,’ respectively, due to their inclusion of the nine-dash line. (ai/mnm)