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Philippines blocks ‘Sarah’ pic

MANAMA, Philippines (Reuters) — Philippine President Fidel Ramos on Tuesday denied he had stopped the screening of a film about a Filipina maid who escaped execution in the United Arab Emirates, saying the issue was under review.

“It is not the president that bans films in the Philippines,” Ramos said, following a two-day visit to Bahrain. But Ramos ordered state censors to defer the film’s scheduled opening today “due to anticipated extremely negative impact on Philippines-UAE relations.” Showing the film “Sarah Balabagan Story” would also endanger negotia-tions to save the life of another Filipino jailed in the UAE for killing an Indian national, Ramos said.

The movie is based on the story of the young Balabagan, who was sentenced to death by a UAE court for stabbing to death her Arab employer, who she had accused of trying to rape her in 1994. After UAE President Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan al-Nahayan intervened, Balabagan’s sentence was cut to a year in jail and 100 lashes.

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