The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Thursday said it has jurisdiction to filter the contents of video on demand platforms like Netflix.
During a Senate joint panel hearing of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and Ways and Means, MTRCB Legal Affairs Division chief Atty. Jonathan Presquito said unrated motion pictures are prohibited under the agency's laws.
"There is a necessity for us to proceed with the regulation, especially during the lockdown. Most of us ang nag-maintain ng sanity po natin 'yung mga streaming services eh. Netflix, Iflix, lahat ng mga movies na nakikita natin but all of those movies Mr. Chair, unrated po 'yun," Presquito told senators.
"Streaming services, like Netflix, are video on demand platforms and we have to regulate those platforms. We have to ensure that those materials being shown on those platforms are compliant with the MTRCB law," he added.
This is to ensure that all contents being viewed are age appropriate, among other considerations, Presquito said.
He added that the MTRCB has already prepared a draft of regulatory policies but one dilemma is hampering its roll out.
"We don't want to create an impression that MTRCB will be violating the other laws of the Philippines na halimbawa si Netflix irerehistro sa MTRCB and yet Netlfix won't comply with SEC law on doing business, won't comply with the BIR law on registration, won't comply with the local government regulations, mayor's permit," he said.
"How can we require Netflix to register in the Philippines? Wala siya sa Pilipinas eh but the product is being distributed online," he added.
Presquito said MTRCB wants the streaming services industry to flourish but underscored that there is a need to put regulatory mechanisms in place.
"Doon sa pagbebenta ng videos, the MTRCB law is clear Mr Chair. No material shall be sold or distributed in the Philippines without being passed upon by the MTRCB. So in other words, the entity selling the material must be registered with the MTRCB," he said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, author of the Internet Transactions bill being tackled in the hearing, acknowledged MTRCB's concern but suggested that it better be addressed in a separate measure since it is delving on the content side.
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel, nevertheless, asked MTRCB to continue participating in the next hearings to figure out what could best be done with its dilemma.
"As I see it, it's also an existential problem for the MTRCB kasi pwedeng lumabas ngayon na hindi na kayo kailangan. Pag-isipan nating mabuti 'yan. Sabi ni Senator Win, it's either we update our laws to catch up with technology or we enforce our archaic laws and hold back technological progress," Pimentel said. -MDM, GMA News