Bill seeks to classify tabloids with sexual content as R-18

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to classify tabloids with sexual content as pornographic, restricting sale only for those aged 18 and up. 

Quezon City 2nd District Representative Precious Hipolito Castelo filed House Bill (HB) No. 4733 or the National Restriction on Tabloids Act.

By classifying tabloids containing “sexual stories and images” as pornographic or X-rated, HB 4733 would only allow adults aged 18 years old and above to avail of them. 

In her explanatory note for the measure, Castelo said classifying these tabloids as R-18 would “protect the moral integrity of our children.” (READ: Philippines top global source of child pornography – Unicef)

“Movies and television programs are strictly reviewed and classified with the end in view of achieving intelligent viewing and protecting our children. By the same token, smutty tabloids should be regulated in such manner as to keep at bay to protect the moral integrity of our children,” said the congresswoman. 

Castelo’s bill, however, did not specify any criteria on what constitutes as "sexual stories and images." She also did not name the proper agency that would be tasked to craft the rules and regulations on the implementation of HB 4733 should it become a law.  

The legislator would also leave it to “competent courts” to determine the appropriate penalties for any violations of the bill’s provisions.

Danilo Arao, journalism professor from the University of the Philippines Diliman, said HB 4733 could infringe on press freedom if the government would be given the power to regulate media content. 

"The 5 sections of HB 4733 do not define certain terms, so even misogynist pronouncements of certain government officials could be considered a sexual story. The same is true of a sexual image, say, of a male government official kissing a female supporter," said Arao.

"HB 4733 could set the stage for media censorship without using the latter term," he added.

Read a full copy of HB 4733 below: " data-auto-height="true" data-aspect-ratio="0. 7080062794348508" scrolling="no" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0">


Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.