DISCLAIMER : This entry is just my personal opinion and I do not represent or espouse the positions of any party involved in this controversy. It is just my take on the matter based on my limited knowledge of obscenity laws as they relate to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. My statements should not be taken as legal advice by any of the parties involved.
Continued from Freedom of Expression and Boybastos.com
Apart from allegedly maintaining an obscene website, Mr. Bastos may also be charged under Republic Act 9208, The Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2003, according to T.V. reports and statements by NBI officials who invited Mark Verzo for questioning.
Maybe not the actual acts which constitute human trafficking, but those which indirectly promote human trafficking. It’s a stretch you might say, but the law is coached in the broadest possible terms and will be interpreted as such in order to attain its objective of promoting human dignity and protecting people from exploitation.
Thus, sexual tourism and exploitation of people through abuse of vulnerability to produce pornographic material , though not exactly involving transport of persons, can be considered as an aspect of human trafficking. Pornography, in a very comprehensive sense, is also a facet of human trafficking. Section 3 (h) of R.A. 9208 defines pornography as:
“(h) Pornography — refers to any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology, or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purposes.”
What our man Boy should watch out for is that part of R.A. 9208 which punishes “advertisements” or “propaganda” in the internet as acts that promote trafficking in persons. Section 5 of the law provides:
“SEC. 5. Acts that Promote Trafficking in Persons. — The following acts which promote or facilitate trafficking in persons, shall be unlawful:
(c) To advertise, publish, print, broadcast or distribute, or cause the advertisement, publication, printing, broadcasting or distribution by any means, including the use of information technology and the internet, or any brochure, flyer, or any propaganda material that promotes trafficking in persons;”
Although Mr. Bastos might say “I never promoted trafficking in persons and am in fact vehemently against it!”, it becomes a matter of proof now on the part of the prosecution and defense should the matter go to court. As I said, trafficking under the said law is interpreted in its most expansive sense.
A word about Mr. Bastos’ supposed arrest, as it appears to be the created a stir in certain circles.
Mr. Verzo was not arrested but “invited” for questioning. Now, it can rightfully be said that such an “invitation”, coming from the NBI, is something one cannot refuse. Not so. While such an invite is certainly intimidating, he was well within his rights to refuse if he wanted to. He could have also demanded that he be accompanied by his legal counsel. But being the upstanding and civic-minded citizen that he is, he went knowingly and freely. He even made statements to the press.
Was he charged ? No. If he were charged, then after questioning by the NBI, he should have been brought to a public prosecutor for preliminary investigation. Instead, he was released. He never even saw the inside of a courtroom, much less was he formally arraigned or made to post bail. Instead, he went on his merry way.
In a later posting, what I would do if I were Boy Bastos.
The foregoing is just my personal opinion and I do not represent or espouse the positions of any party involved in this controversy. It is just my take on the matter based on my limited knowledge of obscenity laws as they relate to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. My statement should not be taken as legal advice by any of the parties involved.