HomeLEAPS: Miriam College Faculty Research Journalvol. 24 no. 1 (2004)

Women in Philippine Movies: Republic Act No. 9208

Ma. Margarita A. Acosta

Discipline: Women’s Studies, Feminism



This paper is written based on the perspective of the writer as a “newly enlightened” individual on the various human rights treaties – their mechanisms and procedures. With specific bias on media, the discourse of this paper is on the recently signed Republic Act 9208 known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” and its implications to the Philippine movie industry.

Observably, there are laws in the Philippines that pertain to the responsibilities of media and limitations of what can be executed and/or publicly exhibited, yet, there is a proliferation of materials that can be considered obscene, lewd, and outright pornographic.

The Philippine movie industry has evolved from its golden years in the 1950s; to “bomba” films in the 1960s; to politically infused films in the 1980s; to “quickie, ST (sex trip), titillating, pene-kula (penetration)” films -its most pitiful slump - to date. It is exploitation, taking another form, of vulnerable newcomers - out to prove the extent of how daring they can be in the face of competition.


The contention of this paper is that pornography on screen is a form of prostitution because in both cases “…the woman is not only depicted in obscene and indecent ways as a sex object for the pleasure of the male. She is actually degraded and treated as garbage.” (Mananzan, 1997: 31)

A comprehensive law which, in the interpretation of this writer benefits the women victims of prostitution and pornography, called Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9208), has been recently signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, much to the delight of the women advocates. What is impressive in this law is that it decriminalizes the women victims and penalizes anyone who engages in the services of a trafficked person. Although this is only in the case of prostitution, it is a big step towards how those involved in commodifying women through pornographic materials may also be punished – for it is a matter of interpreting the law.

So, what will become of the long-ailing (some say “dying”) local movie industry? Now that women advocates are rejoicing that women’s human rights are slowly gaining momentum at being recognized, protected and fulfilled via RA No. 9028, then there could be only two extremes where the industry may go: positively, towards its rehabilitation for quality films and negatively, towards its own further deterioration, finally its demise.