MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Friday dismissed concerns over the Barbie film's depiction of a world map drawing allegedly showing China's claims to the disputed South China Sea.
Earlier this week, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) allowed the fantasy comedy film to be shown in cinemas, convinced that the "cartoonish map" did not depict the so-called nine-dash line, which China uses to justify its maritime claims.
“Maganda raw eh, sabi nila,” Marcos said of the film, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office.
“Siyempre, ‘yung sinasabi nila ‘yung kasama doon sa ‘yung boundary line na ginawa. Ang sagot ko doon, what do you expect? It’s a work of fiction,” he said in a chance interview with reporters in Northern Samar,.
(It was good, they said. Of course, among their concerns is the boundary line. I told them, 'What do you expect? It is a work of fiction.')
Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite rival claims from other Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Vietnam reportedly banned the Barbie film over its map scenes which portrayed the famous doll's make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the real world.
In a separate letter to Sen. Francis Tolentino, who had criticized the film for "violating Filipino fisherfolks' rights", the MTRCB said it had asked Hollywood studio Warner Bros to "blur" the controversial lines on the map.
Censors said they found only eight dashes around the landmass labelled "Asia".
"Moreover, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia are not visible on the map," the board said in the letter dated July 11 and shared with reporters.
"This is in stark contrast to the maps found in the banned films 'Abominable (2019)' and 'Uncharted (2022)'," it said.
The Philippines' approval of "Barbie" coincided with the seventh anniversary of an international ruling that China's historical claims to the South China Sea have no legal basis.
The fantasy comedy film about the famous doll, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is set to open in the Philippines on July 19.
— with a report from Agence France-Presse