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House bill wants ‘porn’ tag on tabloids with sexual stories, images

But UP journalism prof says this proposal could violate press freedom
/ 11:43 AM September 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo has filed a bill that would classify tabloids containing sexual stories and images as pornographic or x-rated.

House Bill No. 4733, or the proposed “National Restriction on Tabloids Act,” seeks to label such tabloids as “only for adults” and must only be bought by 18-year-olds. 

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Section 3 of the short bill states that the proper agency would issue rules and regulations on the measure, while Section 4 mandates competent courts to determine penalties.

“Movies and television programs are strictly reviewed and classified with the end view of achieving intelligent viewing and protecting children,” Hipolito-Castelo said in her explanatory note of the bill, citing studies on the negative effects of pornography to the youth.

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“By the same token, smutty tabloids should be regulated in such manner as to keep them at bay to protect the moral integrity of our children,” she added.

But University of the Philippines Diliman Associate Professor Danilo Arao warned Wednesday that the proposed law, which essentially allows the government to regulate media content, could infringe on press freedom.

The professor also said the five sections of the bill did not define certain terms, which could mean that even misogynist pronouncements of certain government officials or a sexual image of a male government official kissing a female supporter, for example, could be considered a sexual story.

“HBN 4733 could set the stage for media censorship without using the latter term,” Arao stressed. /kga

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