Porn tabloids are proliferating

I’M certainly no prude, and I am definitely all for a free press. But it gets my goat that a group of pornographers are making probably tons of money pretending to be in the industry where I am, media.

For more than a year now, pornographic publications very thinly disguised as tabloids have been circulating in Metro Manila and in cities elsewhere. I managed to buy three of these, with even their names revealing what they really are: Bagong Toro, Kadyot May Sundot, and Sagad. “Toro” is street lingo for a live sex show while “kadyot” and “sagad” refer roughly to motions in sex.

I have seen kiosks just outside a church (such as the Santo. Domingo Church) and near a school selling the porn tabloids, which are even displayed on top of the non-porn tabloids.

I’m disclosing here that I have a vested interest in this issue. In my wish to reach more of the masses, I am also a regular columnist for Bulgar, a tabloid that is the biggest newspaper in the country. It’s a 27-year-old publication, and a very decent one, with not a single photo of scantily dressed women. The paper’s name “bulgar” does not refer to vulgarity, but to a media exposé. 

It irritates me no end that when I say I have a column in Bulgar, people raise their eyebrows and I have to explain that it is far, far from being a lascivious type of tabloid.

I found the porn tabloids to be a bit shocking. They have photos obviously captured from video porn, foreign and local, that have become so widely available in the internet. They have “columns” that aren’t really columns but pornographic prose. Examples of these are “Hidden Camera: Exposed” by one Mang Kanor, with one of his pieces’ title (and topic) in bold headlines: “Dalaga, Sinubo ang Nag-aalburotong Alaga ng Dyowa.”

One ostensible advice column had the headline “Kailan Pwedeng Tirahin ang Misis na Inoperahan?.” They also have “novels” published in series such as Predatora (Patutoy Hunter)” by one Shade Morales.

The porn tabloids even have comic sections illustrating explicit heterosexual and homosexual sex.

I belabor the issue. Sold at just P12 per issue, the tabloids are making serious money selling material for sexual arousal. While there are no studies made on such print porn’s impact, I would bet that it is a factor in sexual crimes, especially when read by one high on drugs or just plain drunk.

The publishers of these tabloids are, contrary to print regulations, anonymous. These publications do not publish what are called “staff boxes” in the newspaper industry, which report who are their publishers and editors.

The porn tabloids, however, publish their purported addresses, so an advertiser can reach them. Sagad and Kadyot May Sundot have the same address: 38-B, D. Aquino St., 4th Avenue, Caloocan City.

The porn tabloid Bagong Toro though reports its address at the Ground Floor, National Press Club.

What? Has the 66-year old National Press Club found itself in such financial difficulties that it leases its office space to a porn tabloid?

But do we have laws that criminalize print porn? Yes ­­— the strongman Marcos’ Presidential Decree 960 issued in 1976. The decree amended the Revised Penal Code so that the penalty of prision mayor (six years imprisonment) or at most P12,000 (or both) is imposed, among others, on “obscene publications” — which however wasn’t defined in detail. (The heyday of porn tabloids was in the immediate pre-martial law years.)

I haven’t found any case though of anybody being convicted of pornography. Former President Joseph Estrada though in 2000 closed down several tabloids that were veering towards soft porn, and made a lot of enemies in media.

What would have defined “obscene publications” was to be found in a Senate Bill 2464, known as the Anti-Obscenity and Pornography bill, filed in 2008. Significantly, it would have increased the monetary penalty to from P500,000 to P1 million. For some reason the bill didn’t get through the House of Representatives.

‘Columns’ of the porn tabloids.
Comic strip in a porn tabloid.

The bill would have designated seven government units other than the law enforcement agencies, to ensure the implementation of what would have been a new anti-pornography law. At the top of that list of government units was the Philippine Information Agency, which is now under the Presidential Communications Operations Office. (What was enacted into law was the Anti-Child Pornography Law of 2009, which was mainly in reaction to the widespread reports of impoverished Filipino children being victimized in internet porn sites.)

Because that bill wasn’t enacted into law, no government office is monitoring and persecuting violations of the Marcos 1976 decree against pornography.

Shouldn’t this be the work of the purported guardians of morality in the country, the Catholic Church and its noisy bishops? This is their issue rather than politics, and carping against Duterte?

 

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