‘Sexy’ billboard guidelines tossed to women’s groups in the Philippines

Careful to avoid being branded as a censor, the Department of Public Works and Highways is seeking allies, particularly women’s groups, to bolster its fight against suggestive commercial displays.

Earlier vowing to tear down billboards that showed models in skimpy attires, Undersecretary Rafael Yabut said the condemned structures had violated the national building code as well.

He said Task Force Baklas (dismantle) under him, would need perspective since determining something indecent or immoral was beyond the agency’s ken.

“Being in the field of infrastructure, we want to be guided by these women’s organizations because they know best issues that are detrimental to their interest, so we are going to sit down with them.”

Lined up for consultation are Asian Women’s Human Rights Council, Development Institute for Women in Asia Pacific, Institute of Women’s Studies, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, Third World Movement Against Exploitation of Women, University Center for Women’s Studies, and Women’s Studies and Resource Center.

The motley group variously examines issues on sex discrimination and stereotyping, education of the public on women’s rights among other gender controversies.

“We would like to know what they say about women or men being projected as sex objects on billboards,” said Yabut.

Due to intermittent rain, the task force cancelled the scheduled dismantling of at least 17 commercial displays found not only with code violations but also containing “indecent” material.

“We welcome the bad weather, which delayed our dismantling operations because it gives us more time to seek the wisdom of women’s organizations,” said Yabut.

He said more support is expected out of consultations with the religious sector led by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the Philippine Independent Catholic Church to bolster its campaign against illegal billboards.

Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. last year was upheld by the Court of Appeals in a case against Astro Advertising on regulating “indecent and immoral” materials.

Outdoor advertisers and suppliers have time and again threatened to sue the department on its power to “decide on advertising content.”

The sector had questioned Ebdane’s power to demolish billboards after Malacañang ordered a nationwide campaign in the aftermath of killer Typhoon Milenyo in 2006.



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