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Joanne Maglipan, formerly with film censor board
"[The church] understands its power"
 real 28k

Friday, 23 March, 2001, 17:01 GMT
Philippines to review ban on sex film
Gloria Arroyo
Ms Arroyo, a devout Catholic, threatened to fire Tiongson
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has agreed to review a controversial ban on a film about workers in the sex industry.

If you go out of Live Show titillated, you're sick because that's a very depressing movie

Nicanor Tiongson
The banning of Live Show has triggered a debate over the freedom of expression and the role of the Roman Catholic church.

The row - the first crisis to face the new president - began after the Church severely criticised the government for allowing the screening of the film, which shows bare-breasted women.

Nicanor Tiongson
Tiongson said he had to follow his conscience
On Wednesday, top film censor Nicanor Tiongson resigned in protest over pressure from the powerful Church, accusing it of "religious bigotry".

But on Friday, presidential chief of staff Renato Corona said he and two other members of an appeals committee would watch the controversial movie next week to decide its fate.

Artists' groups have defended the movie, which was shown at the Berlin Film Festival last year.

'Drunk with power'

Mr Tiongson, the former chairman of the movie and television censor board, has said the film had a "message" and should not be considered pornographic.

"It is ironic that the freedom of expression that liberated us from a corrupt and incompetent government will become the victim of religious bigotry," he said.

cardinal sin
Cardinal Sin has taken a stand in politics
A film critic and former member of the country's Film Board, Joanne Maglipan, told the BBC that the church had become "drunk with power".

"I think after its role in the ouster of [former President] Estrada... it has come to the point where it understands its power and it wants to wield that power," she said, adding that Ms Arroyo felt that she owed her presidency partly to the church.

Ms Arroyo came to power in January after Mr Estrada was ousted by a public uprising backed by the church.

She said only one lay group, linked with the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Sin, had objected to it.

"There is now a certain rightist righteousness coming from the Church," she said.

Name change

Former president Joseph Estrada
Estrada was ousted after a church-backed uprising
Mr Tiongson said he could not ban the film because it would be "against everything that I've stood for in my life."

"If you go out of Live Show titillated, you're sick because that's a very depressing movie," he said.

Directed by Jose Javier Reyes, chairman of the Directors Guild of the Philippines, the film has been shown in 12 other festivals in North America, Europe and Australia.

It was approved for release in the Philippines after its original name, Toro, which was considered provocative, was changed.

"Toro" is local slang for pay per view sex.

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo pledges to 'crush' enemies
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12 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Church call for prayer crusade
14 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
Church condemns Geri's visit
11 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cardinal Sin tells Estrada to quit
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