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Manila top official wants Da Vinci movie banned

Written by: Staff

MANILA, May 10 (Reuters) The Philippine government should ban the controversial movie ''The Da Vinci Code'', a senior official in the mainly Catholic country today said. describing the religious thriller as blasphemous.

The film, based on the best-selling fiction novel of the same title, is due to open in Manila's cinemas next week.

''I think we should do everything not to allow it to be shown,'' said Eduardo Ermita, executive secretary to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, expressing his personal opinion as a ''devout Catholic''.

He told journalists the state's censors should take a closer look at its guidelines before giving the green light tothe film whose central premise is that Jesus Christ sired achild by Mary Magdalene.

More than 80 percent of the Philippines' 85 million population are Roman Catholic. Along with Malta, the Philippines is one of only two countries in the world without a divorce law and frowns on the promotion of artificial contraception.

''In the name of many like you who love and revere the Son of God made Man, I strongly appeal to you that the showing of the film 'Da Vinci Code' be banned throughout our land,'' said a Roman Catholic archbishop in a letter to the chief censor this week.

Ramon Arguelles of the archdiocese of Lipa, south of Manila, said the movie was an affront to Christianity, reminding the censors that the government had imposed a ban on another movie, ''The Last Temptation of Christ'' in the 1980s.

Ermita said Arroyo, also a devout Roman Catholic, has not made any statement on the issue. She is due to return from a four-day state visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow.

''It's something that we should not be talking about,'' he said, referring to the movie's storyline. ''We might get struck by lightning.'' Reuters SY GC1725

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