You should know by now that there's a bill filed by Senate President Manny Villar titled the “Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008” (Senate Bill No. 2464). As if the Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act No. 9208 (“Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”) are not enough (the bill is actually a proposed amendment of the aforementioned Article 201 [see my previous blog post discussing those two pieces of law]), our dear Senate President decided he wants to bring the Philippines back to the conservative Spanish period.
I urge you to download a copy of the bill from the Senate website to see for yourself what utter crap this proposed legislation is. For starters, look at these two definitions in the Senate Bill:
“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:
- showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
- showing, depicting or describing human sexual organs or the female breasts;
- showing, depicting or describing completely nude human bodies;
- describing erotic reactions, feelings or experiences on sexual acts or;
- performing live sexual acts of whatever form.
“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.
Wow. Simply “describing" erotic reactions is illegal? I guess the Bible should be banned as one commenter noted since the book Song of Songs describes the consummation of love between a man and a woman, although in very flowery words. And take note that the motives of the “obscenity” or “pornography” producer does not matter—one cannot claim that it's just for art's sake anymore.
What makes this piece of legislation particularly egregious are the penalties. Take this one for example:
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) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) shall be imposed.
So that means that practically every author of every story in the popular website Kuwentong Kalibugan (if they can be identified) can be jailed for at least three years! Imagine that.
It is not the job of the state to police its citizens on matters of morality. That's the parents' job and the task of various religious institutions. There's a reason why the Philippines is a secular nation and why the separation of the church and state is enshrined in the Constitution. The only related thing that the government should concern itself with is matters of ethics, and it's doing a poor job of it if the widespread perception of corruption is to be believed. Hey, I like the lofty goals of the bill to “give special value to the dignity of every human person” but the bill as it stands now will just have too much collateral damage especially to the fine and literary arts.
Please, spread the word about Senate Bill No. 2464. It's a backward and draconian piece of legislation.
A few other bloggers' articles about this bill:
- “STOP THIS OBSCENE BILL. The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Senate Bill No. 2464” by John L. Silva
- “Senate Bill 2464 Will Recreate Taliban in Manila” by cocoy of Filipino Voices
- “Fahrenheit 2464” by Marck Ronald Rimorin of Filipino Voices
And there's plenty more.