The Philippines

Religious leaders seek to ban magazines

On Monday, a group of religious leaders in Manilla filed criminal complaints (via) against editors and publishers of popular men’s magazines and so-called “smut tabloids.”

The group was led by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, a pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church, who has a history of campaigning to control what other people should be allowed to read.

Named in the joint complaint affidavit lodged with the Manila Prosecutor’s Office are Ramon Faustino, editor-in-chief of the local version of Playboy magazine, together with other Playboy staff; as well as staff employed by FHM and Playhouse magazines. Also named are editors of the tabloids Sagad, Hawtaw and Toro.

The respondents were also slapped with violation of Ordinance No. 7780 of the City of Manila, which prohibits the printing publication, sale, distribution and exhibition of obscene and pornographic acts and materials.

The group said the magazines and tabloids violated anti-pornography laws for containing “obscene, erotic, indecent, or lewd pictures/poses that show, depict, exhibit, or describe nude or semi nude bodies sexual acts, sexual intercourse, private parts of the human body of both male and female, with no educational, artistic, cultural or scientific value.”

“Such portions/pages of the said magazines and tabloids are clearly scandalous, obscene and pornographic within the meaning and in violation of Articles 200 and 201 of the Revised Penal Code,” the group said in their complaint.

Censoring criticism

Bulatlat (via) reports that the Philippine Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has been criticised for censoring two short films created by independent film makers.

Southern Tagalog Exposure’s (ST Exposure) A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo and Sine Patriyotiko’s Mendiola have been rated “X” or disapproved from public exhibition by the MTRCB. Said films are part of an eight-film compilation scheduled to be shown at the Kontra Agos Resistance Film Festival on December 5-11, Indie Sine, Robinson’s Galleria.

In an interview, RJ Mabilin, director of A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo, said that the MTRCB justified the rating by saying that the films “undermine the faith of the people in government.”

A Day in the Life of Gloria ArroVo is a political satire while Mendiola is a short documentary critical of the Arroyo government’s calibrated preemptive response (CPR).

Mabilin said, “It goes to show that there exists institutionalized repression. The MTRCB has the final say whether a film should be viewed or not. It will never allow the propagation of films which carries dissenting views to the current administration.”

In September, the MTRCB also rated “X” the compilation of films titled Rights which deals with the human rights situation in the country.

A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo is currently available on YouTube.

Banned/unbanned

Philippine censors have lifted the ban on a collection of 13 short films on human rights in the country, but restricted them to viewers aged 13 and above.

Kiri Dalena, one of the filmmakers, welcomed the decision, but said, I still think the reaction of the public toward the censorshipcontributed largely to the change in the decision.

Filmmakers, artists and human rights activists had expressed indignation over the boards earlier decision to ban the collection which had been inspired by foreign television advertisements on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human Rights Porn

Cartoon ABS-CBN (via) are reporting that Philippine filmmakers are up in arms over the latest decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), stopping the commercial showing of independently produced short films on human rights in the country by giving them an “X” rating.

On September 18th, the MTRCB reviewed the collection of 30-second to one-minute films, which tackle unexplained killings and enforced disappearances involving activists and journalists, among others. The following day, they announced that the films had been rated X which means they are unfit for public viewing.

The 13 short films contain excerpts from news video footage from the era of martial law, the killing of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino, and demonstrations during the Marcos administration, up to the killings of militant leaders, and the abduction of others, including Jonas Burgos.

The 13 short films titled “RIGHTS” were supposed to be shown yesterday at the Indie Sine cinema in a mall in Ortigas Center, in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of martial law and International Day of Peace.

Although the launching of the short films pushed through Friday afternoon, their public viewing was halted due to the MTRCB ruling issued on Sept. 19.

Multi-awarded filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna of the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) and Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) described the MTRCB decision as being indicative of “an abusive law”.

The XXX president

INQ7 (via) is reporting that deposed Philippine president, Joseph Estrada, is taking legal action to compel Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to allow the showing of his banned biopic in Plaza Miranda, a designated “freedom park.”

Former Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez, one of Estrada’s legal counsels, said this would be a test case for the constitutional guarantee for free expression, particularly in the light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the right of demonstrators to air their issues in designated freedom parks, even without the mayor’s approval.

Atienza denied for the second time on Wednesday the request of Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Publikasia, producer of Estrada’s film biography, for a public exhibition and forum on the controversial newsreel, which was given an X rating by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Rodriguez said they will file a petition to compel Atienza to reverse his order against the public showing of “Ang Mabuhay Para sa Masa (To Live for the Masses),” which he claims is a grave abuse of authority and violation of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Rodriguez said Atienza’s move runs counter to the wisdom behind the creation of freedom parks under B.P. 880 as a venue for free expression and political dissent.

“The reason behind the triple-X rating which banned Estrada’s biography was political in nature,” Rodriguez asserted.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCD) has rated the film XXX - meaning that three members of the board gave it an X rating - which makes it unfit for public viewing.

Backdoor censorship

The Philippine censor, Consoliza Laguardia, has given The Da Vinci Code an adults only rating, claiming that only mature audiences should be allowed to see it. This is not really a censorship issue, you might think, but

The Philippiness largest cinema chain, SM cinemas, does not show 18-certificate films

The film is expected to become widely available on pirate DVDs.

Bishop hypes Da Vinci

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has called on Philippine film censors to ban The Da Vince Code for being blasphemous.

Arguelles said that after reading the book, he was convinced that the film could shake the belief of even the most devoted Catholic and urged the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) not to approve it for public screening.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines appears to be thinking a bit more rationally:

Spokesman Monsignor Pedro Quitorio said other bishops believe that banning the film would only create more controversy, which would intrigue more Filipinos into seeing it.

We neither oppose nor endorse its showing, he said. We dont want to ride on the commercialization and marketing hype because we know that this is all marketing strategy and the bottom line here is money. Its not religion.

Quite.

Its times like this that a sense of proportion would help

The Philippine Alliance Against Pornography Inc. (PAAP) has called on President Arroyo to ban the showing of the film version of The Da Vinci Code. They are also demanding that the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Customs to confiscate and destroy master copies of the film - although its not clear how much jusrisdiction they expect the Phillipines to have over a foreign film studio.

But it gets madder:

In a statement, PAAP spokesman Aldo Filomeno said copies of Brown’s books available in bookstores and related establishments should also be destroyed.

Finally, the group wants Brown to be declared persona non grata in the country.

And madder:

Therefore, theologians and historians are unanimous (in saying) that Brown is the one having a code. That is to conquer the world with greed for billions (of dollars in) profits. Brown is the modern-day Adolf Hitler. By his highly questionable writings, he wants to destroy the divinity of Christ so the world will worship his evil empire, [PAAP spokesman Aldo] Filomeno said.

Aldo Filomeno really does pull his head out of his arse and ask himself whether he really thinks that a second rate novellist can ever be compared to the worst mass murderer of the 20th Century.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

More Da Vinci nonsense

The Melon Farmers managed to perfectly sum up my view of both The Da Vinci Code and the reaction to it with the headline for this story about attempts to pressure the Philippine film censors into banning the film.