Libel? – Part I

Libel? – Part I
Manuel L. Morato

UNCENSORED
By MANUEL L. MORATÓ
Libel? – Part I

As I have said before, I held two very sensitive and controversial government positions in the past, the Movie & Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Between the two, the MTRCB was more challenging and very controversial in the sense that I had to deal with pornographic (bomba) film producers so rampant at the time, totally contrary to their imagined freedom of expression.  Oh yes, they raised hell on me as MTRCB Chairman when the 30 directors I had with me were the reviewers of films shown on the cinema houses and on television.

The obligations of the MTRCB must comply with the accepted values of our people and country.  We have laws to follow and IRR to implement that no sex movies, gory and violent movies must be allowed on theatrical run and on television.  The classification for TV programs should and must be much stricter for films shown on television for it invades the private homes without permission and can cause harm on the young children who are not supposed to see what are not suitable for them to see.  In other words, the classification for television is only up to Parental Guidance and adult films must not be allowed to be shown on television.

To make a long story short, those in government service must be true to their calling to police the movie and television industries when it comes to movies they make.

The years I was in the MTRCB as Chairman were the most controversial years kasi nagwawala ang movie & television industries right after Martial Law when I took over in 1986.  They felt that with the lifting of Martial Law went the so-called “total freedom” to do anything they want.  Parang mga nakawala sa hawla.  I got the brunt of their anger who are liberals who thought that they have all been “liberated” again and could do anything and everything under the sun.

In the performance of my duty, I had to run after the porno films, nationwide, and either confiscate them and burned them in the Ninoy Aquino Park in Quezon City in the presence of the media, print, radio and television as the law requires.  I included responsible citizens who also gave their support.  They served as witnesses to the burning of porno materials contrary to law, which reflecting back on what we did then can be replicated by the PDEA with the tons and tons of shabu and illegal drugs confiscated.  Those drugs can be burned in the same manner as we did with the illegal porno materials that need not be kept in the archives where they can be stolen again.  It sends a strong message to the public to avoid them.

To preclude any suspicion on what happens to prohibited materials after confiscation is to burn them in the presence of the authorities, respected citizens in the community and foremost the members of the media for all the public to know.

What I am trying to lead to is while I filed charges in court against the offenders of the law like producers of porno materials whose confiscated prohibited materials are better burnt and get ridden with in full view of the public.  Otherwise, putting them in storage is rather susceptible to robbery and thievery.  Get rid of them once and for all.  And by doing so, it sends a strong message that the materials are contrary to law.  Otherwise, keeping them is conducive to “pilferage.”  Burn them, “cremate” them and throw them in the middle of a vast ocean for burying them might be “resurrected again.”

In my entire six years in the MTRCB, I took the violators to court with the evidences confiscated.  I won all my cases.  Of course, there were those who were unhappy to lose their banned materials under the law that they rallied, insulted me and called me all names under the sun.  But never did I charge them for libel.  If only the late Armida Ponce Enrile Siguion Reyna were alive today, she can attest that I never got back at them for maligning my name in rallies against me, on TV and print media.  Never did I sue them in court.  If a person is telling the truth and has the evidences at hand; and the one who libeled with no concrete reasons is the more guilty one.  Libel is used as a cover-up.

I only was after their materials prohibited by law in order to stop the film industry from proliferating porno and gory and violent materials on film prohibited by law.  My 6-year term handling the movie and television were the most controversial years ever of the MTRCB.  It’s a given that when one is doing the right thing, expect controversies to spark.  And that I had plenty of.  How could there be libel when the issues are truthful and supported by documents?

Joy Belmonte filed a libel case against 11 media members, columnists and reporters; and included me as well last Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

(to be continued)

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