Google Dennis Rito | Blog: Senate Bill No. 2464: The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008

15 September 2008

Senate Bill No. 2464: The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008

I must thank John Silva who sent me an email recently about Senate Bill 2464, known as the Anti-Obscenity & Pornography Bill. The Bill was passed last July 24, 2008 in the Congress, (which went unnoticed within the art/ photography circles?), and currently in the Philippine Senate will ban the showing of human bodies with exposed female breasts as pornographic because it will - "arouse impure thoughts." Anyone who exhibits or writes about it gets up to 12 years in jail and a P1 million fine.

While it has the loftiest intentions "to give special value to the dignity of every human person and to promote and safeguard its integrity and the moral, spiritual and social well-being of its citizenry," I find it unsettling to see how this Bill defined obscenity and pornography and encompasses almost everything. Look at how the proposed Bill define obscene and pornography :

(a) "Obscene" refers to anything that is indecent or offensive or contrary to good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or tends to corrupt or deprave the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure thoughts or arouse prurient interest, or violates the proprieties of language and human behavior, regardless of the motive of the producer, printer, publisher, writer, importer, seller, distributor or exhibitor such as, but not limited to:

(1) showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
(2) showing, depicting or describing human sexual organs or the
(3) showing, depicting or describing completely nude human
(4) describing erotic reactions, feelings or experiences on sexual female breasts; bodies; acts; or
(5) performing live sexual acts of whatever form.

(b) "Pornographic or pornography" refers to objects or subjects of film, television shows, photography, illustrations, music, games, paintings, drawings, illustrations, advertisements, writings, literature or narratives, contained in any format, whether audio or visual, still or moving pictures, in all forms of film, print, electronic, outdoor or broadcast mass media, or whatever future technologies to be developed, which are calculated to excite, stimulate or arouse impure thoughts and prurient interest, regardless of the motive of the author thereof...

Every creative work, be it a photograph, drawing, painting, illustrations, ads, writing, etc. was made within certain context/ intent and it is important to look under what context those works are made before you can call it art or porn. But the line "regardless of the motive of the author thereof" takes out of the context on which artistic creations (photograph, illustration, painting, drawings) are founded and made. This simply means that nudes, even done in an artful manner will fall under this category. As artists/ photographers, don't you feel your freedom being curtailed with those stipulations? And in that case, the proposed Bill violates section 4 of our Bill of Rights which states "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press…”

John Silva mentioned several reasons why this bill MUST be junked and I quote...
The draconian features of this bill is in the penalties and punishment imposed...There are intermediate level punishments for writers but the stiffest is reserved for the artist, painter or producer of any artistic work getting 6 – 12 years in prison and from 500,000 to one million pesos in fines.

Many museums and private galleries have nude drawings, paintings and sculptures by various artists, some by national artists. These artists, numbering in the thousands are now open to obscenity and pornographic charges and liable for punishment.

The painter get the stiffest sentence of 6 – 12 years and up to 1 million pesos in fines. National Artist Bencab's nude paintings recently shown at a private gallery makes him, the gallery owner and the gallery staff liable for prison terms and get the full brunt of the law.

This anti obscenity and pornography bill can detour and go after organizations tangential to the bill's focus. For example an organization promoting family planning, safe sex and condom use will be considered arousing prurient interest (meaning an excessive interest in sex) and can be hauled to jail.

... who decides good customs, and whose religious beliefs and principles and doctrines are we favoring? There are organizations that do not subscribe to that culture such as indigenous people's organizations, minority religious organizations, organizations promoting alternative lifestyles... Their beliefs can now be deemed contrary to the prevailing customs and punishable.

... obscenity charge can be made on anyone "regardless of the motive of the producer." This means if an artist draws nudes to simply learn how to draw anatomy, the government can dismiss his motive outright and declare the drawing obscene and pornographic. 


For the sake of all concerned, I am posting hereunder the proposed Bill in its entirety...

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FOURTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE)
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )
Second Regular Session

SENATE

S.No. 2464
--------------------------------------------------------------
Introduced by Senator Manny Villar
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EXPLANATORY NOTE

It is the duty c the State to give special value to the dignity of every human person and to promote and safeguard its integrity and the moral, spiritual and social well-being of its citizenry, especially the youth in general and women in particular, from the pernicious effects of obscenity and pornography.

This Bill aims to criminalize the publication, broadcast, exhibition of pornographic materials including images that appear in traditional media such as,but not limited to, paper, celluloid, film, magnetic tapes or through airwaves or through the use of computers, the internet, cyberspace, Internet chat, chat rooms, web sites, electronic mails optical media, and other technological advancements thereof to protect the morals of the society.

Approval of this bill is earnestly sought.

                                                                                                                    (Sgd.) Manny Villar

 
AN ACT PROHIBITING AND PENALIZING THE PRODUCTION, PRINTING, PUBLICATION, IMPORTATION, SALE, DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION OF OBSCENE AND PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIALS AND THE EXHIBITION OF LIVE SEXUAL ACTS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE ARTICLE 201 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE, AS AMENDED

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008".

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. - It is the policy of the State to give special value to the dignity of every human person and to promote and safeguard its integrity and the moral, spiritual and social well-being of its citizenry, especially the youth in general and women in particular, from the pernicious effects of obscenity and pornography.

To effectively enforce this policy, the government shall wage a relentless campaign against obscenity and pornography. Likewise, the government shall see to it that educational institutions are complying with their constitutional mandate to strengthen ethical and spiritual values and to develop moral character and personal discipline.

SEC. 3. Definition of Terms. -As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:

(a) "Obscene" refers to anything that is indecent or offensive or contrary to good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or tends to corrupt or deprave the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure thoughts or arouse prurient interest, or violates the proprieties of language and human behavior, regardless of the motive of the producer, printer, publisher, writer, importer, seller, distributor or exhibitor such as, but not limited to:

(1) showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
(2) showing, depicting or describing human sexual organs or the female breasts;
(3) showing, depicting or describing completely nude human bodies;
(4) describing erotic reactions, feelings or experiences on sexual acts; or
(5) performing live sexual acts of whatever form.

(b) "Pornographic or pornography" refers to objects or subjects of film, television shows, photography, illustrations, music, games, paintings, drawings, illustrations, advertisements, writings, literature or narratives, contained in any format, whether audio or visual, still or moving pictures, in all forms of film, print, electronic, outdoor or broadcast mass media, or whatever future technologies to be developed, which are calculated to excite, stimulate or arouse impure thoughts and prurient interest, regardless of the motive of the author thereof.

(c) "Mass media" refers to film, print, broadcast, electronic and outdoor media including, but not limited to, internet, newspapers, tabloids, magazines, newsletters, books, comic books, billboards, calendars, posters, optical discs, magnetic media, future technologies, and the like.

(d) "Materials" refers to all movies, films, television shows, photographs, music, games, paintings, drawings, illustrations, advertisements, writings, literature or narratives, whether produced in the Philippines or abroad.

(e) "Sex" refers to the area of human behavior concerning sexual activity, sexual desires and instinct, and their expressions.

(f) "Sexual act" refers to having sex or the act of satisfying one's sexual instinct

SEC. 4. Punishable Acts. - The following acts are declared illegal and punishable:

(a) Prodycing, printing, showing, exhibiting, importing, selling, advertising or distributing obscene or pornographic materials in all forms of mass media;

(b) Causing the showing or exhibition, distributing or the printing, publication or advertising, or the selling of obscene or pornographic materials in all forms of mass media;

(c) Showing, exhibiting, selling, or distributing obscene or pornographic movies in whatever format, whether produced in the Philippines or abroad, in any restaurant, club or other places open to the public, including private buildings, places or houses where the viewers are not limited to them owners thereof and the members of his family;

(d) Writing any obscene or pornographic article in any print or electronic medium;

(e) Performing, demonstrating, acting or exhibiting any obscene or pornographic act in any form of mass media; and 

(f) Performing, demonstrating, acting or exhibiting any obscene or pornographic act in any form of mass media; and act in public, public places or any place open to public viewing.

SEC. 5. Penalties. - The following penalties shall be imposed upon any person found guilty of committing any of the prohibited acts under Section 4 of this Act:

(a) For producing, printing, showing, exhibiting, importing, selling, advertising or distributing obscene or pornographic materials in all forms of mass media, the penalty of prision mayor, imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (I) day nor more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (PI ,000,000.00) shall be imposed;

(b) For causing the showing or exhibition, distributing or the printing, publication or advertising, or the selling of obscene or pornographic materials in all forms of mass media, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than three (3) years nor more than six (6) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed;

(c) Showing, exhibiting, selling or distributing obscene or pornographic movies in whatever format, whether produced in the Philippines or abroad, in any restaurant, club or other places open to the public, including private buildings, places or houses where the viewers are not limited to the owners thereof and the members of his family, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than three (3) years nor more than six (6) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (500,000.00) shall be imposed;

(d) For writing any obscene or pornographic article in any print or electronic medium, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than three (3) years nor more than six (6) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed;

(e) For performing, demonstrating, acting or exhibiting any obscene or pornographic act in any form of mass media, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one (1) year nor more than three (3) years and a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (Pl00,000.00) nor more than Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) shall be imposed; and

(f) For performing, or allowing the performance of, live sex or live sexual act in public, public places or any place open to public viewing, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one (1) year nor more than three (3) years and a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) nor more than Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) shall be imposed. 

In any case, if the offender is a juridical person, the president, general manager, members of the board of directors, editor-in-chief and the managers or heads of the sales, marketing and advertising departments or sections thereof, as the case may be, shall be criminally liable: Provided, that, if the offender is a foreigner, he shall, after service of sentence or payment of the fine, be subject of deportation and forever barred from entry into the country.

In case the offender is below eighteen (18) years of age, he or she shall be considered a victim of child abuse pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Abuse,  Exploitation and Discrimination Act", and shall be placed under the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts punishable under this Act shall not be entitled to the benefits of the Probation Law. 

SEC. 6. Witness Protection and Immunity from Prosecution - Any person who provides material information, whether testimonial or documentary, necessary for the investigation or prosecution of any one committing any of the acts punishable under this Act and who testifies against such person shall be placed under the Witness Protection Program pursuant to Republic Act No. 6981and shall be immune from any criminal prosecution, subject to the pertinent provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1732, otherwise known as the Decree Providing Immunity from Criminal Prosecution to Government Witnesses, and the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court.

SEC. 7. Duties of Government Agencies Concerned. - In addition to the law enforcement agencies responsible for monitoring and implementing the provisions of existing laws on pornography, the following government agencies are hereby mandated to provide assistance and support to ensure the effective implementation of this Act:

(a) Philippine Information Agency (PIA);
(b) Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB);
(c) Optical Media Board (OMB);
(d) National Telecommunications Commission (NTC);
(e) National Youth Commission (NYC);
(f) Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); and
(9) Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The said agencies shall, in addition to their regular functions, exercise the following duties:

(1) Monitor all mass media that fall within their respective jurisdiction;
(2) Seek the assistance of local government units (LGUs) to identify the persons responsible for the proliferation of obscene and pornographic materials;
(3) Initiate the prosecution of all persons involved in violation of this Act, Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and other related laws;
(4) Receive complaints from the general public anent the proliferation of obscene materials within its jurisdiction and act accordingly on such complaints;
(5) Recommend the cancellation of business permits of those found violating this Act, Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and other related laws; and
(6) Perform such acts necessary to carry out the objectives of this Act.

SEC. 8. Disposition of Materials. - Any prohibited material including tools, instruments, facilities and equipment used in the production of obscene and pornographic materials shall, after lawful seizure and final conviction of the offender, be forfeited in favor of the government and destroyed in the presence of the representatives of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and anyone from the religious, civic or youth organizations of such place in the manner as the court may order: Provided, however, That when the accused is acquitted, the materials seized shall nevertheless be forfeited in favor of the government and destroyed: Provided, further, That if the acquittal results from a finding that the materials seized are not obscene or pornographic under this Act, the materials shall be returned to the accused.

SEC. 9. lmplernenfing Rules and Regulations. -Within ninety (90) days from the effectivity of this Act, the DOJ, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the PNP, the PIA, the MTRCB, the OMB, the NTC, the NYC, the MMDA, the DPWH and other concerned government agencies shall jointly promulgate the implementing rules and regulations as may be necessary to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the provisions of this Act: Provided, That the absence. of such implementing rules and regulations shall not prevent the arrest, prosecution and conviction of any person committing an offense under this Act.

SEC. I0. Separability Clause. - If, for any reason, any section or provision of this Act, or any portion thereof, or the application of such section, provision or portion thereof to any person, group or circumstance is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions of this Act shall not be affected by suchdeclaration and shall remain in force and effect.

SEC. 1 1. Repealing Clause. - The provisions of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and the provisions of all other laws, decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations which are inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SEC. 12. Effectivity Clause. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

Approved,


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The Bill is now under deliberation in the Justice and Human Rights Committee headed by Sen. Francis Escudero (sen.escudero@gmail.com). The rest of the Committee include Sen. Benigno Aquino (benigno_aquino_iii@yahoo.com), Sen. Rodolfo Biazon (ponbiazon@yahoo.com), Sen. Alan Cayetano (alancayetano@yahoo.com), Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (senator_enrile@senate.gov.ph), Sen. Gringo Honasan (gringo_chq@yahoo.com), & Sen. Jamby Madrigal (man@senate.gov.ph). 

7 comments:

suntoksabwan said...

That is one obscene bill man!

I think whoever wrote this just performed what they call a "sagasa" - impose the highest penalty, qualify the most number of acts, and generalize as much as they can.

Perhaps they were thinking that after it passes through the technical working group of the committee to which this bill will be assigned, and after it survives the public hearings in the committee level, and after it succumbs to amendments during floor deliberations, then it would by then be watered down and reduced to a more palatable version.

But still, if it catches everyone off guard, it just might pass in its present form and we'll all be... (insert vulgar expletives here).

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Michael said...

Who is the retard who drafted this bill?

Edgar Lorenzo F. Nievera said...

I think there is something "not right" in the definition of OBSCENE under this bill. It is too subjective. The words used are not defined objective enough. I would rather have a bill that is five pages long specifically defining a word in the context of the law, than a paragraph that is a bit Vague. It crosses with the varying standards of morality and the definition thereof. Although I know that there are certain things the general population may not necessarily need to see, It should also protect the artists and their work for the advancement of humanity as a whole. Perhaps there is an attachment of some sort further defining the term? I am not a law student. So If I missed out on anything, please excuse me.

lady j said...

what should we do then? how can we citizens intervene to try and prevent this bill from being passed? is there an online petition i can sign?

Bing S said...

I wouldn't take the bill too seriously. By its definitions, a photograph of Jose Rizal's The Triumph of Science over Death would be obscene. Teachers who introduce their students to this example of the national hero's talent would be purveying pornography. (A proud naked young woman balancing on a human skull, gasp! Deviltry! I noted, though that the bill excluded "sculpture," and whether that was due to a lapse of imagination on the part of its proponents or because in their view a sculpture poses no threat by virtue of being static, I don't know. A *picture* of a sculpture, as for example, Rodin's The Kiss would be considered obscene under the bill, though.)

The House proposes legislation similar to this in severity (or narrow-mindedness, if you like) all the time. Rather than sounding the death knell for artistic expression and liberal education in the Philippines, it simply reminds us of the reality -- that some of the people we elect to represent us are quite medieval in their thinking.

Don't worry, in this state it won't pass the House-Senate debates.

Mr. A said...

Obviously, Manny Villar wants to look good at the eyes of the ultra-conservative. But like all other politicians, he didn't have any foresight on the repercussions of such a bill. tsk tsk. And he's running for president of the country.

Dennis S. Rito said...

Some updates from Jonas Diego's The Blurb - http://jonasdiego.com/theblurb/2009/07/sen-manny-villar-on-komiks-and-obscenity/