CCPC says no to magazine seizures
Cebu journalists and private sector partners are opposing a move to reinforce the power of the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB) to confiscate magazines and newspapers “even without any prior court order.”
A resolution strongly opposing this proposed amendment to the anti-indecency ordinance was approved yesterday by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) during its third quarterly meeting.
It was also agreed that the CCPC, headed by president Dr. Pureza Oñate and supported by a council of editors, news managers, lawyers, businessmen and media mentors, would formally give its stand during the Oct. 8 public hearing on the measure.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, one of the guests in yesterday’s CCPC meeting, said that while he would not preempt the Council on the issue, the proposed amendment should pass the Constitutionality test.
He said enforcing an ordinance based on the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code “cannot overstep” the constitutional right of due process and being protected against warrantless seizures.
Lawyer Elias Epinosa of the Cebu Media Legal Aid (Cemla) said any publications seized without a warrant would not be accepted as evidence in court anyway.
“It will be an exercise in futility as any evidence obtained without a valid warrant is not admissible in court,” he said in the meeting.
Such confiscation, he added,would also violate the right of business owners to exercise their livelihood.
The issue was revived after the June 17 confiscation of FHM magazines from a BookSale outlet in SM City without a search warrant.
The proposed amendment to the anti-indecency ordinance was filed by Councilor Lea Ouano-Japson and sseks to empower the CCAIB to inspect “all bookstores, magazine shops/newspaper stands” and to have access to inispect these establishments at any time of the day or night “even without any prior court order.”
The list of unlawful acts was also expanded to include selling magazines with “sensual, sexual stories/columns”.
The CCPC’s position in two previous resolutions is that while it does not promote obscenity, only the court can decide whether material is obscene or lewd.
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