Lawmakers Want Obscene Billboards Banned

Billboards like this may soon be banned if the House bill is passed into law

MANILA, Philippines – A bill introduced in the Lower House banning lewd billboards along the country’s major thoroughfares has gained support from stakeholders, reports said.

The bill officially called “An Act Prohibiting the Public Exhibition or Display of Obscene and/or Distractive Motion or Still Pictures Along Major Thoroughfares” was authored by Rep. Harlin Cast Abayon, with Rep. Fred Castro as its sponsor.

“It deals with obscene issues of billboards. But this representation thinks safety of the billboard must be incorporated,” Castro said before the committee. “This Representation would like to request the committee to create a technical working group that would study the aspect of how safe the billboards are the moment they are put up in a certain locality.”

“Not only the matter of decency and morality is included, even the safety where the people around is posted,” he added.

Castro explained billboards carrying advertisement are becoming increasingly vulgar and lewd, posing risk to motorists because it might distract the attention of drivers off the road.

It might also unguarded corrupt young minds if they continue to be exposed to these uncontrolled ‘obscenities’.

Meanwhile, the bill already gathered support from stakeholders including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Rosario Cuevas, state counsel of the DOJ said, “In principle, the DOJ proposes no objection on the passage of the bill which protects the populace. We support the passage of the bill.”

Also, MMDA Legal Counsel Zuleyka Lopez expressed support for the measure and ’will cooperate in any manner, providing real time data on matter of accidents on EDSA and those under the authority of MMDA. We also join the suggestion for a technical working group (TWG) so we can fully discuss technicalities of the house bill.’

However, an advertising group said although it supports the bill, clarified it only supports the obscenity issue, but not the matter of safety.

Ramil Gutierrez, Vice President of the Outdoor Billboards Advertising Association, argued no study yet has proven linking traffic accidents to obscene billboards.

He mentioned their study has cited cellphone use, radio and eating food remains the top distractions among drivers resulting to traffic accident.

The committee on public information has directed the creation of a technical working group that will study all aspects related to the implementation of the bill.

The bill has also defined sanctions for offenders once the bill is passed into law:

  • P50,000 to P70,000 and a 30-day suspension of license for advertisers on the first offense;
  • P70,000 to P80,000 and a 60-day suspension of license for advertisers on the second offense; and
  • Jail time of six of months to six years; fine of P80,000 to P100,000 or both, and for advertisers the cancellation of advertising permit or license on the third offense.