Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte on Saturday threatened to cut the budget of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) over the agency’s proposal to regulate the content of streaming platforms like Netflix. 

Villafuerte said the MTRCB’s “regulatory overstretch” is  an “imbecilic” mindset among regulators and only gives legislators reason during the deliberations of the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to view the agency as an “anachronism” that “necessitates urgent downsizing via a hefty cut in its 2021 budget, if not an outright dissolution by according it a zero outlay.”

“MTRCB’s plan to regulate online video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iFlix, HOOQ and Apple TV is a farcical take on censorship that is incongruous with the new world order,” the lawmaker stated. 

“These regulators should stop wasting taxpayers’ money tinkering with this imbecilic idea, lest they give us legislators enough reason to drastically slash their agency’s allocation, if not give it a zero budget, in 2021 and realign the would-be savings to the government’s COVID-19 response,” he added.

Earlier this week, MTRCB Legal Affairs Division chief Atty. Jonathan Presquito said during a Senate hearing on Thursday that movies on streaming services like Netflix should be regulated. 

The regulatory board later clarified that it will only review materials after being uploaded on streaming services. 

MTRCB chairperson Rachel Arenas explained that what the regulatory board is proposing is to align the streaming services’ ratings and classifications to the contemporary values of Filipino viewers. 

However, Villafuerte condemned the move and believed that the idea of MTRCB to censor online video content is useless, unreasonable, and just a waste of government funds. He also noted that there are more offensive, unwholesome or obscene materials anybody can access as long as a Wi-Fi connection is available, including but not limited to social media platforms like Facebook, You Tube, or on porn sites that are currently not regulated. 

Villafuerte also reminded the MTRCB that under Presidential Decree (PD) 1986 creating the agency, the regulatory board has no jurisdiction over digital video content being offered to online consumers. RJ Espartinez