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Press Release - Chiz wants to give more teeth to MTRCB

Sen. Chiz Escudero is backing the proposal to expand and strengthen the role of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), including the power to block inappropriate contents on video streaming platforms that do not fit the moral values of Filipinos.

Escudero articulated his support during Tuesday's plenary debates on the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) where the MTRCB's budget was discussed.

Escudero has sought clarification on the power of the MTRCB to prohibit X-rated films online from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, sponsor of the regulatory body's spending package for next year.

According to Estrada, the MTRCB could only ban subject films or movies from public showing in theaters and television under Presidential Decree 1986, which created the MTRCB, and Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

However, Escudero said the body has no power to prohibit X-rated films from public exhibition on the internet. He also pointed out that it is not within the competence of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to ascertain that certain contents or sites should not be allowed.

"The point I am driving at is that it is not within the core competence of the DICT and I think at some point in time the MTRCB should be brought into the picture either via the bill of Sen. (Robinhood) Padilla or by an amendment to the law," the Bicolano lawmaker said.

Earlier, MTRCB Chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio disclosed that with its limited jurisdiction at present, the agency can only make endorsements while it is the DICT or the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) which have the power to order a takedown of inappropriate contents.

There are five proposals pending in the upper chamber, including Senate Bill No. 1940 or the MTRCB Act of 2023 authored by Padilla, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.

In his bill, Padilla stressed the need for the MTRCB to "address the changing demands of our time."