Filipina Legislator Calls for ‘War on Electronic Smut’

Joanne Cachapero
MANILA — Sen. Loren Legarda has proposed a bill to the Philippine Senate that would impose strict regulations and penalties on Internet websites with explicit adult content. Citing a website called BoyBastos.com, the senator claims the site provides users, including minors, with hardcore images of Filipinas.

“This is by far the filthiest Internet site we've come across that offers open and unlimited access to some of the most obscene videos and photographs of Filipino women and girls,” Legarda said in a senate press release.

Reportedly, BoyBastos.com was ranked by Alexa.com as the 126th most popular website in the Philippines.

Under Senate Bill 1375, proposed by Legarda, website operators trafficking in child pornography and other “indecent materials” would be punished with up to six years in prison or a fine of as much as $10,700 or both.

The bill goes on to propose a broad definition of content that would be subject to scrutiny and potential legal action.

“These include materials that glorify criminals or condone crimes; serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market of violence, lust or pornography; offend any race or religion; tend to abet traffic in and use of illicit drugs; and are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful order, decrees and edicts,” it said.

The bill also would make it illegal for any website operator to knowingly transmit illicit content to any underage users.

The senator urged agencies to Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take action. The IACAT is made up of various representatives from the departments of justice, social welfare, foreign affairs and labor, as well as the immigration bureau, the police, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women and three groups representing women, children and overseas workers.

She called for the IACAT and the NBI to shut down BoyBastos.com.

In turn the website, which is written in native Tagalog, posted a message that said, “close us down if you want.”

However, as of this morning, the website had removed all pictorial content and displayed only links to affiliate sites. Another message was posted that, translated, said the site was shut down due to attention caused by the senator and they would be back up by Thursday evening.

The Philippines currently has several laws aimed at prohibiting pornography, prostitution, sexual abuse and trafficking in materials that involve children, including Republic Act 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, which currently penalizes child prostitution and sexual abuse, child trafficking, and obscene publications and indecent shows involving minors.

State prosecutor Geronimo Sy said there are other laws like the E-commerce Act and the Republic Act 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act, that can be used to prosecute individuals trafficking in illegal online content.

"All these laws can serve as a start for protecting our children," Philippines state prosecutor Geronimo Sy said.

But as to laws prohibiting distribution of online pornography in general, there exist no "focused" legislations yet.