MANILA, Philippines – A top official from the Optical Media Board (OMB) on Thursday said presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas cannot be held liable under the existing anti-piracy law of the country.
Llamas came under fire after Bandera Associate Editor Dona Policar released on Wednesday pictures of him buying P2,000 worth of pirated DVDs at the Circle C Mall along Congressional Avenue in Quezon City last Monday.
OMB Legal Division chief Atty. Cocoy Padilla said under Republic Act 9239, or the “Optical Media Act of 2003”, only those engaged in the manufacturing and selling of pirated goods can be punished.
Padilla said the law does not punish those who purchase pirated DVDs.
“Ang pagbili ng [pirated] DVD na hindi ginagamit para sa commercial activity, eh wala pong liability sa batas ng optical media…Hindi napaparusahan ang nakikitaan ng pirated [DVD]sa kanilang person, kung ito’y di ginagamit sa kanilang pagbenta. Kug mere possession, walang parusa,” Padilla told Umagang Kay Ganda’s Punto por Punto.
“Yun po ang nakalagay sa batas…. Puwede lang naman kaing kumilos hanggang sa binigay ng batas sa amin na kapangyarihan.”
Under the law, those who are caught engaging in the manufacturing and importing of replicating machines and pirated DVDs may be imprisoned for 3 to 6 years and be fined with P500,000 to P1.5 million.
Pirated DVD merchants, on the other hand, only face imprisonment of 30 to 90 days, and a fine of P25,000 to P50,000.
Padilla admitted the current version of law do not have enough teeth to fully dismantle the piracy industry in the country.
“Ang kahirapan po diyan eh talgang ‘yun lang ang nakalagay ng batas. Humihingi na kami sa Kongreso na ma-amyendahan ang optical media act dahil marami na itong pagkukulang. Bukod sa ‘di napaparusahan ang bumibili, ang bababa ng penalty na ini-impose at nakakawala ang mga nasaasmpahan ng kaso,” Padila said.
‘Not a top priority’
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) secretary Hermino Coloma Jr., meanwhile, defended President Aquino for saying that the Llamas issue is not among his top priorities at the moment.
“’Yun ay paglalahad lamang na kung ang titignan sa kabuuan ng kanyang agenda bilang lider ng bansa, tinataya lang niya na marami pang ibang suliranin, ibang usapin at isyu na kanyang kinakaharap,” Coloma said.
Nevertheless, Coloma assured that the executive branch will look into this issue.
He said Llamas may still be held liable under other rules and regulations involving the proper behavior of government officials.
“Baka naman merong administrative rules and regulations na applicable sa bagay na iyan. At dahil siya (Llamas) ay isang public official, tutunghayan natin ang mga applicable administrative rules and regulations, if any, matapos niyang maglahad ng kanyang paliwanag,” Colama said.
P1.2 billion worth of fake DVDs seized
Meanwhile, Padilla said OMB has seized P1.2 billion worth pirated DVD movies and software since it began its crackdown in 2011.
One of the most affected in OMB’s crackdown was the once-flourishing pirated DVD market in Quiapo.
“[Itong halaga na ito] ay imbis na napupunta sa mga may-ari ng mga kanta, pelikula, eh napupunta sa mga pirata,” Padilla said.