May 11, 2008

The legality of raids

IANAL (i.e., I'm no Misterhubs), but I guess it's still worth discussing the actual legal framework that law enforcers use when they conduct raids. This post is a follow-up to the Queeriosity Palace raid article that I did a few weeks ago. Let's delve into the details by looking at other similar incidents.

Bath, December 11, 2004

At around 4:00 a.m. on December 11, 2004, the Bath club along Ma. Orosa Street in Malate was raided by the police. The club's manager, its employees, as well as the customers, were arrested and brought to the detention center. The charge? Violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code. So what's Article 201? Here it is:

Art. 201. Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows. — The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon:

(1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals;

(2) (a) the authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the owners/operators of the establishment selling the same;

(b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place, exhibit, indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by virtue hereof, shall include those which (1) glorify criminals or condone crimes; (2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography; (3) offend any race or religion; (4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts;

(3) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals.

Verdict? It's a stupid law. Who the hell defines what's obscene and who dictates what is publicly moral? Oh, I guess the famous barrel man of Baguio should be banned because it's illegal according to provision 3 of the said Article.

Adonis, April 10, 2008

"QUEZON CITY, Philippines - More than 20 male models were rescued, and over 40 mostly female customers were held in an early morning raid at the Adonis Bar along Timog Avenue in Quezon City."—"Cops raid Adonis Bar in QC; over 20 male models rescued." GMA News

In this raid at a well-known gay bar (that's actually mostly patronized by women), the police officer in charge of the operation said that the owners of the bar and the customers can be charged under Republic Act No. 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. You should read the whole law (it's only about 7 pages long), but to help you, I'll highlight the law's definition of some things relevant to us that are considered "trafficking in persons" and are illegal:

Prostitution — refers to any act, transaction, scheme or design involving the use of a person by another, for sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration.

Pornography — refers to any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent shows, information technology, or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purposes.

Sexual Exploitation — refers to participation by a person in prostitution or the production of pornographic materials as a result of being subjected to a threat, deception, coercion, abduction, force, abuse of authority, debt bondage, fraud or through abuse of a victim's vulnerability

My personal belief is that paying person to have sex with him is a no-no. That's prostitution pure and simple, and it should not be the basis for sex since sex is something that should be enjoyed by both people without involving any money. But the laws definition of prostitution is way too broad. Sex for "other consideration"? I guess that a you-do-me-I-do-you is a consideration?

And yes, the pornography question. We've all gone through the anti-smut era of the last decade (remember Manoling Morato?) and pornography in its various forms is still illegal in this country. Gay bars is pornography ("indecent" shows), bathhouses that show blue films or put up sexy pictures engage in pornography, Ang Lihim ni Antonio is pornography, heck, even Hot Men in the Philippines is pornography, and therefore illegal. But note the operative phrase "for primarily sexual purposes." Well, the best defense for that is the "art" defense: make sure that it's plausible that the "porn" you're pushing is artistically done.


Sadly, the law provides ample ammunition for authorities to conduct raids on various places. Any tip about prostitution and pornography activities in any place is likely enough for any police unit to request a warrant from a judge and harrass the unlucky place even if ultimately there is no actual prostitution or pornography involved.

As I said before, you may not end up in jail but you might out yourself inadvertently to people you care about when you're caught in a raid. Ultimately, it's just a matter if going to a place that could be raided is a risk you're willing to take. But no matter what, it's best that you become familiar with the law and you learn your rights. This point is one thing that's always stressed by Lagablab (an LGBT lobby group) whenever incidents like these happen.