MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Atty. Francis Tolentino expressed his support for the removal of offensive and inappropriate billboards across Metro Manila.
In an interview with radio dzMM on Saturday, Tolentino commended the initiative of Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos to request advertisers to dismantle an underwear ad of the Philippine Volcanoes, the country's rugby team, along EDSA-Guadalupe.
“Ang ginawa ni Mayor Abalos ay tama. Sinusuportahan namin iyan. Consistent iyan sa National Building Code at consistent din iyan sa Section 16 ng General Welfare Clause ng Local Government Code,” Tolentino said on the radio show "Magandang Morning with Julius and Tintin".
Tolentino clarified that the billboard was taken down not only because of its offensive content, but also for violating size restrictions.
“Dapat may easement tayo sa Pasig River ng 10 meters. Kahit mag-ocular inspection tayo, wala sa 10 meters ‘yon. Wala na ang easement doon dahil tinayuan na ng mga billboards,” he said.
“Ide-clutter natin ang kaayusan ng ka-Maynilaan para sa ganoon maging maaliwalas at hindi puro advertisements. Hayaan nating mag-circulate ang natural na hangin at makita man kung may landscape pa at natural beauty ang Pasig River. Ito ang layunin, hindi naman alisin lahat,” Tolentino added.
A new committee was formed to regulate billboard content, headed by Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman, according to Tolentino.
Fr. Roderick Castro, parish priest of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was also tapped by the MMDA to be part of the committee.
Tolentino said that previously, the MMDA was not involved in the screening process of billboard advertisements for content.
“Noong nakaraan, ang nagre-regulate ay sila din, ang AdBoard (Advertising Board of the Philippines). Walang pagkakaiba iyan sa isang producer ng pelikula na mayroon silang sariling [board of censors]. Hindi dumadaan sa amin ang proseso ng content kung ano ang ilalabas nila,” he said.
However, Tolentino said the committee has not yet been officially formed due to resistance from some billboard operators.
Meanwhile, Jones Campos, executive director of the AdBoard, earlier expressed his dismay over the decision to take down the controversial underwear ad.
"We feel it's a matter of advertising this product...in this case...I think they are selling what...brief na panglalaki (men's briefs)," he said.
Campos said regulating billboards may open the possibility of violating the rights of advertisers.