Senators weigh in on 9-dash line in ‘Barbie’

(BUSINESS MIRROR) SENATORS weighed in on Tuesday on calls to ban the cinema exhibition of the movie “Barbie” for showing an image of the 9-dash line map that China has been using—amid objections by other claimants—to illustrate its claim over most of the South China Sea.

Two senators, Jinggoy Estrada and Francis Tolentino, asked the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban the movie for abetting Beijing’s infringement on Philippine sovereignty.

However, Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros, one of the most vocal in denouncing Beijing’s “bullying” in the past, pointed out that the movie is a work of fiction, and thus, a ban might not be appropriate.

Tolentino stressed that if the invalidated 9-dash line was indeed depicted in the movie ‘Barbie,’ then it is incumbent upon the MTRCB to ban the same as it denigrates Philippine sovereignty.

“Dapat lang ipagbawal ang pelikulang ‘Barbie’ dahil ang pinakita nitong 9-dash line ay salungat sa katotohan at ipinawalang bisa na ng arbitral ruling noong 2016. [It’s but right to ban ‘Barbie’ because the 9-dash line it features is a lie that has been invalidated by the arbitral ruling of 2026].”

Estrada recalled that “this is not a first as there had been similar cases in the past such as the movies titled ‘Uncharted’ and ‘Abominable’ that have been pulled out from Philippine cinemas because of a brief glimpse of the unilaterally declared nine-dash line of China.”

He added: “If the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) in the past banned commercial screenings of these movies, I wouldn’t be surprised if the agency will take similar action especially since the production behind the film ‘Barbie’ is facing a similar issue,” Estrada said, speaking in Filipino.

Hontiveros, however, said: “The movie is fiction, and so is the nine-dash line. At the minimum, our cinemas should include an explicit disclaimer that the nine-dash line is a figment of China’s imagination.”

Estrada said: “It may be a work of fiction but still, this is a very sensitive issue. It is contrary to our national interest and China has no historic rights in the waters within the nine-dash line. No less than the Arbitral Tribunal already held in 2016 that this infamous line has no legal basis.

“We fought long and hard for this. And it’s but right that we assert our rights on issues of sovereignty. We expect that MTRCB can hand down a decision on this soon,” he added.