Two House panels have formed a technical working group that will review proposals to abolish the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
A statement posted on the House of Representatives Web site said Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante. Jr will chair the group, which was created by the committees on Public information and Government Reorganization. The group will reconcile provisions
in House Bills 2294 and 3584, which propose to do away with the MTRCB and amend Presidential Decree 1986, which created the body.
Abante, author of HB 2294, said his bill aims to replace the 30-member MTRCB board with a 30-member committee that will review and classify motion picture, television and cable television materials. Policy-making, meanwhile, will be done by
another 10-member Commission, he said.
The MTRCB has not shown a determined, positive and sustained effort to exercise and uphold its powers, and it is of public knowledge that programs which are considered immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs continued unabated
to the detriment of the people, Abante said.
Citing surveys, Abante said many crimes against chastity, persons and property have been committed due to the influence of certain media continuously being shown and sold in the country.
Internationally-renowned director Lav Diaz has joined other committed local filmmakers in calling for the scrapping of the repressive Presidential Decree No. 1986 created by the late Philippins dictator Ferdinand Marcos, which is still in effect
through the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
House Bill No. 6425, introduced recently in the lower House seeks to transform the current MTRCB into a film and classification body.
The bill is twenty two years overdue, said Diaz, citing the 1987 Constitution which enshrined freedom of expression in the Bill of Rights.
Under the proposed bill, the ominous “X” rating ban, which stifles freedom of expression, will be replaced by a Certified Not For Regular Theatrical Release classification.
Stressing that it should not be censoring films and TV programs solely because of their critical political or social content, some party-list congressmen are pushing for the abolition of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board
In filing House Bill 6425, the lawmakers, led by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, want the MTRCB to be replaced with the Movie and Television Classification Board (MTCB).
Casiño, the bill's principal author, said the measure seeks to protect and promote freedom of expression in motion pictures and television programs in the country – which he said the MTRCB often fail to do.
The bill will ensure that the right to freedom of expression would not be abridged by replacing the existing Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB), he said in a press statement: The present MTRCB, in the fulfillment
of its duties, often violates or curtails this constitutionally guaranteed freedom.
The lawmaker cited the case of some films and television programs, which were censored and rated "X" by the MTRCB due to its critical political or social content.
Casino said the proposed Movie and Television Classification Board Act of 2009" aims to sanction the eventual self-regulation of motion pictures and television programs to lessen, if not prevent, any abuse or discretion on the part of
MTCB in the classification of any material.
Philippines House committees on public information and government reorganization has approved a bill stripping the censorship powers of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and limit its function to simple film classification.
The unnumbered substitute measure to House Bills (HB) 2294 and 3854 also seeks to replace MTRCB with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Commission. The proposal was approved on June 3.
Rufus B. Rodriguez, who is with the political opposition, said MTRCB's functions should be revised to veer away the agency from censorship and policing: The new agency must be restricted to classification functions. That is why the use of a
proper classification system must be employed .
Under the bill, the new body, which remains under the supervision of the Office of the President, will only review and classify materials.