Immoral doctrines

LAW EACH WEEK

What are punishable under Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code on Immoral Doctrines, Obscene Publications and Exhibitions of Indecent Shows?

The acts punishable under this article encompass a wide array of specific acts expounded as well under PD No. 960 and 969. The acts identified are the following: (1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals; (2) The authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge in any form; (3) The editors publishing such literature; (4) The owners/operators of the establishment selling the same; (5) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs, or any other place, exhibit indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts, or shows; and (6) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals.

When is a material, subject or thing obscene?

The test of obscenity should be objective and it is more on the effect upon the viewer and not alone on the conduct of the performer. Moreover, if the material has the tendency to deprave and corrupt the mind of the viewer then it is obscene and if such obscenity is made publicly then criminal liability arises. It is also important to note that as long as the pornographic matter or exhibition is made privately, then there is no crime committed under the Revised Penal Code because what is protected by the law is the morality of the public in general.

Is a postcard with natives that are almost naked considered obscene?

NO. Postcards of Philippine inhabitants in native attire are not obscene because the aggregate judgment of the community and the moral sense of the people are not shocked by the pictures. They are not offensive to chastity but merely depict persons as they actually lived. (People v Kottinger, 1923)

Is a semi-naked performer/ dancer considered obscene?

Yes. The reaction of the public during the performance of a dance by someone who had nothing to cover herself with, except nylon patches over her breasts and too abbreviated pair of nylon panties to interrupt her stark nakedness is considered indecent and obscene to the public eye. (People v Aparici, 1955)

Furthermore, an actual exhibition of the sexual act is not considered as art, according to Courts hence, it is a clear and sheer obscenity. (People v Padan, 1957)