Artists vow to get anti-censorship bill passed

by Boy Villasanta,

Posted at May 30 2009 08:05 PM | Updated as of May 31 2009 04:05 AM

Internationally-renowned director Lav Diaz has joined other committed local filmmakers in calling for the scrapping of the repressive Presidential Decree No. 1986 created by the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, which is still in effect through the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

As a member of an ad hoc committee composed of cultural professionals mostly from the local film community, Diaz lauded as a landmark step the filing of a bill that strips “dictatorship-era” censorship powers from the government.

House Bill No. 6425, introduced recently in the lower House by Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares, Gabriela's Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan, Anakpawis' Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod, and Kabataan's Raymond Palatino, seeks to transform the current MTRCB into a film and classification body.

By throwing his support behind the bill, Diaz is showing his nationalist and true-blooded artist’s sentiments, one who is willing to sacrifice personal gains in favor of the public interest.

“The bill is twenty two years overdue,” said Diaz, citing the 1987 Constitution which enshrined freedom of expression in the Bill of Rights.

Diaz is the the award-winning director of such classic films as “Batang Westside,” “Death in the Land of Encantos,” and “Melancolia."

“We are happy the progressive bloc in the House has engaged the local film community in an exhaustive process of fashioning a genuine fleshing-out of this unprecedented freedom gained by our people and marked in the Bill of Rights,” he said.

Free the Artists

Diaz  has been very active in the formation of the Task Force Free the Artists (TFFTA) movement, which backs up the creation, revision, submission, deliberation and eventually, the passing of the bill in both branches of Congress.

He has confirmed his participation in a series of mass actions the progressive bloc might take to uphold the importance of the bill in the transformation of a service-oriented entertainment industry, especially in filmmaking.

Diaz has been a fixture in political rallies and demonstrations before, during, and after the EDSA Revolution.

“Kailangang ipaglaban ang ating mga artistic rights,” exclaimed Diaz, whose last two film opuses, namely “Death…,” and “Melancolia,” were disapproved by the censors board as unfit for public showing.

Nonetheless, his films, including these last two, were shown and are still showing abroad to critical and commercial affirmations.

Under the proposed bill, the ominous “X” rating, which stifles freedom of expression, will be replaced by a “Certified Not For Regular Theatrical Release” classification.

Diaz was joined by his colleagues in the local film industry--Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Young Critics Circle’s Nonoy, Concerned Artists of the Philippines’ Mavs Deocampo and Joel Garduce, Auraeus Solito, Kiri Dalena, Keith Sicat, Emmanuel de la Cruz, Alexis Tioseco, Mario Guzman, JP Carpio, Jowee Morel, Teta Tulay, Hai Balbuena, Vives Anunciacion, Sari Dalena, and Dino Manrique of TFFTA.