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A Filipino Lawmaker Wants ‘Smutty Tabloids’ Classified as Porn

Many local tabloids are filled with photos of nearly-naked women and detailed retellings of gruesome events.

by Lia Savillo
26 September 2019, 8:54am

Photo via Flickr user Wayne S. Grazio

Tabloids around the world have a bad rap because of their sensationalised headlines and questionable reporting but one lawmaker in the Philippines wants to put a stop to something else they’re known for—photos of nearly-naked women.

On Monday, Quezon City 2nd District Representative Precious Hipolito Castelo filed House Bill No. 4733 or the National Restriction on Tabloids Act which will classify tabloids with sexual content as pornographic, restricting its sale to those 18 years old and up.

Many tabloids in the Philippines feature scantily-clad women on the front page. These are sold everywhere—on the streets, in public markets, and outside churches—and often outsell traditional newspapers.

Castelo said that there is a need for classifying these tabloids as R-18 to “protect the moral integrity of our children.”

“Movies and television programs are strictly reviewed and classified with the end in view of achieving intelligent viewing and protecting our children. By the same token, smutty tabloids should be regulated in such manner as to keep at bay to protect the moral integrity of our children,” she said in her explanatory note.

However, she didn’t specify what classifies as “sexual stories and images” and didn’t name an agency that would be tasked to regulate tabloids should the bill be passed. She also failed to determine the penalties for violators and instead, left this for “competent courts” to decide.

Like any other controversial bill, this has already garnered critics. University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao warned that the bill could “set the stage for media censorship," Rappler reported.

Local tabloids also have many other questionable practices that are arguably more dangerous than erotic photos. Most have headlines that stretch the truth—the print equivalent of clickbait—insensitive reports on serious topics like suicide, and violent retellings of crimes.

Congress has yet to review the bill.

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