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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Philippines sex film protest
cardinal sin
Cardinal Sin took a political stand against former president Estrada
Hundreds of actors, directors and left-wing activists in Manila marched to the presidential palace on Monday in protest over the controversial banning of a film about workers in the sex industry.

We are returning to the Dark Ages

Director Joel Lamangan
Some gay marchers bared their buttocks at riot police while others waved placards reading, "Yes to expression, No to suppression."

The film, called Live Show, shows people performing sexual acts on stage in Manila's nightclubs in exchange for money. Supporters of the movie - shown at last year's Berlin Film Festival - say it highlights the poverty which forces women into prostitution.

Nicanor Tiongson
Tiongson said he had to follow his conscience
The ban has triggered a debate in the country over freedom of expression and the role of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which pushed the government to suspend the already-released film.

Last week, President Gloria Arroyo - who has been accused of buckling to church pressure - agreed to review the ban. An appeals committee with two presidential staff members is set to decide its fate.


The ban prompted the country's top film censor, Nicanor Tiongson, to resign in protest over what he described as "religious bigotry".

His replacement, 76-year-old Alejandro Roces, has publicly supported the ban. "I believe art should uphold virtues and not glamorise vice," he said.

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

Nicanor Tiongson
"Do I want my daughter or my grandchildren to see this? What good will it do them?"

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

'Drunk with power'

A film critic and former member of the country's Film Board, Joanne Maglipan, told the BBC last week that the church had become "drunk with power".

Former president Joseph Estrada
Estrada was ousted after a church-backed uprising
The church's political power was demonstrated earlier in the year, when it played a key role in helping topple the previous administration of President Joseph Estrada through a popular uprising.

"I think after its role in the ouster of Estrada... it has come to the point where it understands its power and it wants to wield that power," she said.

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

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See also:

23 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines to review ban on sex film
30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo pledges to 'crush' enemies
26 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo gets tough with new cabinet
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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