Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian frowns upon the advertisers’ self regulation policy on billboard contents, calling it “reactive rather than proactive.”
During a Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel, a weekly forum with veteran columnist Neal Cruz, Mayor WIN explained that, “The issue has been there and it is not the first time that a billboard was protested for its provocative content. But the industry has been reactive. Pag may reklamo saka lang aaksyon. (They act only when a complaint has been raised.) Dapat iwasan nila ang reactive measures, kapag mahalay, huwag na dapat ikabit. (They should refrain from resorting to reactive measures, but rather decide before hand not to install [billboards] with objectionable contents.)”
It can be recalled that Mayor WIN sent a text message requesting Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos’ to look into the so-called “obscene” Bench billboards featuring the players of the Philippine Rugby Team Volcanoes in underwear. Both Mayors shared the same view and called the glaring huge billboards “shocking” and “inappropriate for children.”
“The billboards violated nothing in terms of size restriction on structure. There were four series of billboards placed next to each other, that is why they projected very big,” said one of the panellists, Advertising Board of the Philippines (AdBoard) Executive Director, Mr. Jones T. Campos. “As per the assessment and review of the Ad Standards Council (ASC), the contents of the billboards are in compliance with the council’s Code of Ethics.”
There is no national agency which regulates billboard contents. In terms of the structure, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) imposes the National Building Code. A resolution in 2004 delegated the regulation to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). “We respect the ASC and AdBoard’s self-regulation policy, but I think, in the case of the Volcanoes billboards, hindi sila naging mahigpit (they were not rigid),” Mayor WIN added.
In the City of Valenzuela, there were no billboards that can be considered really offensive. The only problem that the City encounters with regards to billboards is when the actual size installed is larger than the size applied and permitted. The stability of the structure becomes questionable if they encounter size discrepancies, and the residents fear for their safety, especially, in times of typhoon. The Engineering Office, with the consent of the City Legal Office has dismantled several violating billboards.
Mayor WIN said that, “If given a chance, he will not decline being the face or champion of the industry restructuring. We welcome a harmonious output. We want to foster a thriving ad industry. Metro Manila Mayors will hold a dialogue with the AdBoard and ASC on how contents should be regulated,” he ended