Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

CCPC doesn’t support obscenity

July 17th, 2014 · No Comments

RESOLUTION REPEATING AND CLARIFYING STAND OF CEBU CITIZENS-PRESS COUNCIL (CCPC) ON OBSCENITY AND CONFISCATION OF PRINTED PUBLICATIONS BY THE ANTI-INDECENCY BOARD

WHEREAS…

[] Last month, the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB), without any search warrant, barged into BookSale located inside SM City Cebu and confiscated FHM, Cosmopolitan and Maxim magazines and Kamasutra books for allegedly being obscene and/or pornographic.

[] The Cebu Citizens-Press Council, through its deputy director, was asked by media to comment on the confiscation of the 237 magazines from the dealer by the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB).

[] CCPC’s press statement, released by its executive director on July 8, 2014, restated the position the Council adopted last Dec. 6, 2011, which opposed the provision of the then proposed “tabloid ordinance”     of the Cebu Provincial Board that would have empowered the governor to confiscate newspapers, magazines and other printed materials the province obscenity board (to be called Provincial Anti-Obscenity Board) would deem obscene.

[] The same resolution, recommended by Cebu Media Legal Aid (Cemla), the Council’s legal adviser, cited the Supreme Court decision of Oct. 5, 1989 (Pita vs. Court of Appeals, 178 Scra 362) that only a court of law can determine obscenity, and thus confiscation of printed materials without court imprimatur would be unlawful confiscation of private property.

[] The same resolution emphasized that any authority delegated by government, local or national, to an agency or body tasked to enforce anti-obscenity rules should be subject to that requirement: no confiscation unless obscenity is first determined by a court of law.

CONSIDERING…

[] The CCPC believes that the requirement apparently is derived from the controversy over defining the kind of obscenity that must be suppressed for public good and from the fact that materials to be seized are often not contraband or illegal per se. While the body or agency implementing the anti-obscenity law or ordinance can recommend,  it is for the court to decide what is obscene and may be removed from circulation even before start of trial.

[] Caib, from its public statements, believes that it observed due process in the recent raids and confiscation, which belief is patently erroneous as it violated a clear and specific requirement of the Supreme Court. With this, it is feared that CAIB might extend its warrantless seizures to other newspapers, magazines and publications, which it classifies as obscene.

[] Newspapers and magazines are highly perishable; seizing and impounding them and, worse, burning or shredding them before their obscenity is decided by a court of law would injure private business—and more: it would constitute prior restraint and thus impede and violate free speech and free press.

[] Ordinance No. 1408 of the Cebu City Council, approved by the city mayor on Sept. 27, 1991, cannot be deemed superior to, and must conform with, the Supreme Court precept of determination of obscenity prior to any seizure, as promulgated in a string of cases, notably the Pita vs. Court Appeals ruling of Oct. 5, 1989.

        
CONSIDERING FURTHER…

[] CCPC’s view is misunderstood by some anti-obscenity advocates as the Council’s support to lewdness and pornography, which is erroneous as CCPC supported and will continue to support efforts of anti-obscenity agencies as long as they don’t impair other freedoms.

NOW THEREFORE, on motion of all members present, be it RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, that CCPC categorically and vigorously restate its position:

[1] While it appreciates the motive of anti-obscenity agencies of government and private sectors, it condemns the practice of unlawful seizures of published materials that would violate the Supreme Court guidelines for determining obscenity and confiscation of obscene materials;

[2] The Council requests higher government officials to whom local anti-indecency boards are accountable to caution them to observe due process as prescribed by law and jurisprudence.

APPROVED THIS 17th day of July, 2014 during the 35th en banc session of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council at the MBF Cebu Press Center, Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines.

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions · Cebu Media Legal Aid