Stop the movie! Or else....

Theaters in Manila have stopped exhibition of the controversial film The Da Vinci Code on the basis of a resolution filed by the City Council which makes it “a crime to exhibit films which offend a religion”. It also states that “The movie is undoubtedly offensive and contrary to established religious beliefs which cannot take precedence over the right of the persons involved in the film to freedom of expression.”

Those theaters who insisted on continuing to show the movie were threatened with imprisonment of one year and a fine of P5,000.

My question is, since when has a City Council resolution been a valid basis for criminal prosecution, and subsequent penalization through incarceration and the payment of a fine?

Can a person indeed be imprisoned and fined on the basis of a mere resolution, which, compared to an ordinance, is only temporary in nature and should only tackle ministerial issues?

Shouldn't the proper course of action for the City Council is simply to enact an ordinance prohibiting the exhibition of the film?

Could they even do that? An ordinance should not contravene the Constitution or any other law, and yet, an ordinance to the effect of prohibiting the exhibition of any movie would be a violation of the fundamental right to self-expression.

Is the movie considered an affront to the Christian faith even when it is nothing more than fiction? Of course this point is highly debatable.

While the City Council's efforts in preventing exhibition of the film is understandable, given the rather delicate suppositions that the movie is based on, I hardly think think that the issuance of a mere resolution threatening any theater owner with imprisonment and a fine hardly qualifies as a suitable course of action.

It is rife with procedural and substantial infirmities, and to my humble opinion, is not a valid source of criminal law.

They could have simply opted to express their disapproval of their film through resolution, and discouraged their constituents from watching the movie.

But no, they have to go as far as threaten people with jail time and a fine.

If anyone does go to jail, or pays a fine on the supposed authority of a City Council resolution, I think it would make a very good test case. I think such punishment, or even the mere threat of it, is illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and a smear on our democratic processes and institutions.

I wonder if they even realize that?

They could have instead used their charms to persuade theater owners from showing the film. They could have appealed to their sense of civic duty or social responsibility. Instead, the City of Manila would rather wave a big stick around and threaten anyone who disagrees with them.

Henry Sy and Jose Go, two of the richest retailers in the Philippines (owners of SM and Ever Gotesco, respectively) have voluntarily opted to refrain from exhibiting the films from their establishments, yet no law was used to threaten them.

Ah, whatever. It all seems so surreal to me. The Da Vinci Code seemingly has a tendency to bring out the worst in people. Like it has in this instance.

Separation of Church and State. Is it just a political buzzword which in reality hardly has any meaning? Is it proper for a municipal corporation, a local government unit, to delve into matters of faith and morality? Is that not the raison d’ĂȘtre of the Church and other religious organizations?

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I think these politicians acting as "self-appointed guardians of the faith" should just stick to matters of state and leave issues of faith and religion alone.

Something to think about. If there's one good thing about The Da Vinci Code, it certainly has gotten everyone thinking.

And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.

- Luke 20:25

Related Posts:

The Da Vinci Code


snglguy said…
One would have expected this kind of action in either Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Freedom of expression is dead, at least in Manila.

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