Senators Allan Peter Cayetano and Chiz Escudero showed their support for expanding the reach of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to video streaming platforms.

The two senators expressed their support when MTRCB’s budget was being discussed in the Senate on the 2024 General Appropriations Bill.

When Escudero asked for clarification regarding the board’s power to prohibit x-rated films online, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada — sponsor of MTRCB’s spending package for 2024 — explained that the board can only ban such films from being shown in public mediums like television and theaters under the Presidential Decree 1986 and the Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

That means that they don’t have the power to prohibit such explicit films from being displayed on the internet.

Escudero also pointed out that it is “not within the core competence” of the DICT to handle such problems and that, at some point, “the MTRCB should be brought into the picture” either via a new or amendment to the law.

MTRCB chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio disclosed earlier that, with the board’s limited jurisdiction, they can only make endorsements to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the DICT, who have the power to take down illicit content online.

Senator Robinhood Padilla has proposed Senate Bill No. 1940 or the MTRCB Act of 2023, which aims to address the “changing demands of our time.”

Meanwhile, Cayetano is asking the MTRCB to study how it can ensure that Filipino values are kept and maintained on digital platforms like Netflix.

Cayetano stressed that that the goal is not to censor, but the make sure that young Filipinos are not exposed to content that is lewd, violent, or against Filipino morals.

The senator said that a budget of Php10-15 million for the proposed research should already “go a long way” to help achieve the objective.

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