The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is training its sights not only on unsafe but also offensive outdoor advertising billboards.
According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, there is a need to involve the government in drawing up regulations on billboard content to protect public morals.
“There should be an expanded form of regulation… let’s include the government, the consumers’ group, the religious sector and the advertising industry to filter [billboard content] without necessarily controlling or restraining or prohibiting the advertisers from endorsing a particular product. We just need to regulate the exhibit [or] graphic display of sexuality or nudity [which is] offensive to public morals,” Tolentino said at the agency’s weekly radio program on Sunday.
The advertising industry has its own regulatory body that screens the contents of billboards.
Tolentino added, “We will discuss these things with the advertisers. Together with the government, the local government units, the mayors and the public, we hope to come up with one mechanism that will provide what should or should not be… displayed on billboards.”
Tolentino said he intends to discuss the matter with the advertising industry in the coming days as he reminded them to secure a permit for each billboard they put up.
“What happens is that they get building and business permits but they change tarpaulins every two weeks. And when they do that, they no longer get a permit so we don’t get to screen the contents of the new advertisements,” he explained.
The MMDA’s move to get involved in the screening of billboard content came after a complaint from Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos prompted the removal of an underwear ad featuring members of the Philippine Volcanoes, the country’s rugby team, on Edsa-Guadalupe last week.
Tolentino, however, clarified that the billboard was taken down not only because of its offensive content, but also for violating size restrictions.
Tina Velasco, MMDA assistant general manager and spokesperson, said they had formed a committee to be headed by Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman to regulate billboard content.
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 that would come up with a list of prohibitions on content of billboards.
Velasco said the new regulations will reiterate the existing Adboard code of ethics, which in principle should espouse promotion of good values, moral responsibility, decency, and courtesy.
“We created our own committee; we just did our enumeration of criteria but most of them are a reiteration of the code of ethics, plus a few more like rules on leg display, child abuse, unnecessary showing of body parts… things like that,” Velasco said.