Two senators said there is a need to amend laws to update and clarify the authority of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) over online streaming platforms.

Sen. Grace Poe said she appreciates the MTRCB’s effort to work with video streaming platforms in enforcing its mandate, although she maintained that the government should allow them to self-regulate.

Screen Shot 2020 10 03 at 3.04.35 PM 1024x538 - Poe, Imee see need to clarify MTRCB authority over online streaming platforms
Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Imee Marcos

“We really need to move forward towards self-regulation, as we said, na hindi na kailangan ang review (that we no longer need to review their content). I don’t know in the near future. But, maybe one of the things we can do is actually amend the laws of the MTRCB so that we can clarify the online content,” Poe said during the Senate Finance subcommittee’s deliberation on the MTRCB’s P105.9-million proposed budget for 2021.

“Kasi (Because) it’s a really gray area, it’s anything that is shown in the Philippines when you think about it. So maybe, if we amend a certain provision there that will make it clearer what are the responsibilities of online content and if we will allow them autonomy, that should be written down there,” she added.

Sen. Imee Marcos also echoed Poe’s observation.

“Baka panahon nang tignan kung ano gagawin sa online kasi nagkakalituhan (Maybe it is time to look into what to do do about online content because it is confusing),” Imee said.

Marcos said she supports the MTRCB’s position over its authority on all motion pictures, but doubts that the agency will be able to monitor all of them.

“It’s simply impossible to monitor everything online now and how you’re going to do it is a mystery to me. Actually, I was very perplexed kung papaano ita-tax (how would we tax) ang Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and all these other service providers because we can’t even monitor them,” she said, recalling the statements of MTRCB legal affairs chief Jonathan Presquito during a Senate hearing last month.

Poe, a former MTRCB chair, said the problem “is really monitoring within the home.”

“In fact, parents are partners in this. Kasi, ‘yong mga magulang talaga, dapat binabantayan kung ano pinapanood ng mga bata (So parents should guide their children in what they are watching). And when we talk about online content, it will be impossible to monitor all of that,” she said.

“So at most, maybe just, a memorandum of agreement in deference to the audience in the Philippines,” she told the MTRCB.

The MTRCB had earlier drawn flak after Presquito asked lawmakers to grant them the authority to regulate online streaming platforms such as Netflix. MTRCB chair Rachel Arenas later clarified that they only sought to post-monitor and “co-regulate” the streaming platforms.

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