Press council: Only court can say what’s ‘obscene’
In questioning the recent confiscation of glossy magazines that were deemed “obscene” by the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB), the Cebu Citizens–Press Council said “due process” should be followed and that only the court can rule whether the content is pornographic.
“CCPC’s view is misunderstood by some anti-obscenity advocates as the council’s support for 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,” the CCPC resolution reads.
The statement was approved during the press council’s quarterly meeting at the Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center in Cebu City yesterday.
The council said that while it appreciates the campaign of anti-obscenity agencies, it condemns the practice of unlawful seizures of published materials that violate the Supreme Court guidelines for determining obscenity and confiscation.
“It is feared that CAIB might extend its warrantless seizures to other newspapers, magazines and publications, which it classifies as obscene.,” said the resolution.
Quoting the Supreme Court’s decision on Pita vs. Court of Appeals (Oct. 5, 1989), the press council said the High Court ruled that only courts can order the seizure of publications after proper legal steps are taken.
“The council is not opposed to the campaign against obscenity but only to the procedure in enforcement,” CCPC Executive Director Pachico Seares said.
Last June 30, CAIB barged into the book shop BookSale in SM City Cebu and confiscated 186 copies of Cosmopolitan, 38 copies of FHM, 11 copies of Maxim, and two copies of the book Kama Sutra.
No court warrant supported the seizure. Dr. Lucelle Mercado, CAIB head, earlier said the board doesn’t need a court order to confiscate. She said any exposure of a person’s private parts in a publication constitutes pornography.
Asst. City Prosecutor Aida Sanchez, a CAIB member, said the Cebu City Regional Trial Court in Oct. 2005, already ruled that FHM and Maxim were “pornographic” publications and should not be sold anywhere.
“We don’t know what other court orders are they referring to for us to confiscate those lewd magazines. The court has spoken already,” she said.
Seares, a lawyer and Sun.Star Cebu’ editor, said the CCPC will ask Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to caution CAIB to follow proper procedures in enforcing the city ordinance on obscenity.
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