HOUSE BILL 4807: END OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PHILIPPINES?

HOUSE BILL 4807: END OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PHILIPPINES? by elmer nev valenzuela
House Bill 4807 will curtail press freedom as well as freedom of expression.

I have conquered The Met.

Two of my works have made it to the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Consider this as an invitation to the exhibit as it opens on the 20th of this month. My photos, ‘LEAP’ and ‘QUIAPO UNDERPASS’, were taken with artistic intents only and nothing more. But of course, if those images could pay the rent, that would be a bonus.

Now the sad news is, I may no longer be able to go around doing street shots the way I do. There is this looming bill in Congress which appears to be crafted in order to shut down shutterbugs.

House Bill 4807 — called the Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act — prohibits taking visual or sound impressions of unsuspecting individuals with the intent to gain or profit therefrom. Plainly put, this outlaws taking photos or videos of people without their consent through the use of modern devices such as cameras, videocams and smartphones. The bill aims to ‘promote and protect the personal privacy of every person by preventing intrusion for commercial purposes, and enjoining everyone to respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of every person.’

Respect. Privacy. Intrusion. I agree.

Some photographers have gone too far with their gears. There are in fact, cameras — aside from spy cams — which are, in many ways, designed for, well — furtive shots. They’re lightweight, more handy, and has faster and totally silent shutters. Perfectly stealthy. Any jackass can get his hands on these things. Not to mention the powerful lenses used by voyeurs and paparazzis who are hell-bent on intruding people’s private moments for whatever purpose it may served them. House Bill 4807 will curb these photography misdeeds if not eradicate them completely.

HOUSE BILL 4807: END OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PHILIPPINES? by elmer nev valenzuela
Pinoys are not that susceptible to photography and in fact they don’t really mind photographers on the street.

Unfortunately — however good the intent of this bill is — I would like to raise some bones of contentions here:

  • The bill will curtail press freedom.
  • And freedom of expression too.
  • Consent doesn’t go with photojournalism in most cases. How does a journalist ask for consent from, say, an angry mob?
  • This will make news photos and videos illegal. Do you stop media outfits from documenting actions of officials and minimize journalists’ access to information and proofs?
  • The danger here is when hideous organizations/elements or the police itself prevent reporters from taking photos of their actions.
  • Tourists may get caught up in this law and — worse — give another blow to tourism.
  • How do you ask permission from people in picturesque places? Or do you simply wait till the frame is cleared of every single body?
  • Does it apply to CCTV cameras? Because it takes videos and pictures of me without my consent.
  • How about TV cameras? Because they take close-up shots of audiences in a ballgame without their consent as well.
  • The bill could be used as a tool for suppression.
HOUSE BILL 4807: END OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PHILIPPINES? by elmer nev valenzuela
Street photographers in the Philippines are not insensitive to people’s “right to be left alone.”

Of all the creeps this House Bill is stirring, my greatest concern now is what will happen to STREET PHOTOGRAPHY in this land should 4807 comes into law. This genre of photography features the very subject the bill aims to ‘protect’ — people. Human scenes in public places.

CONSENT doesn’t go with street photography. While I don’t have any trouble in asking strangers for a photo (in fact with the right approach you will be amazed how people can be so accommodating) the result wouldn’t go anywhere near street photography. SP is more than a snapshot. It is about capturing people’s emotions and actions candidly. It is about documenting the life of our times genuinely and exhibiting it as it is. And since there is a clear amount of intrusiveness in doing Streets, no question the artistic expression would go head-on with the bill.

As of this writing, 4807 is on its third reading. And we’re hanging on to every word.

 

Latest: The lawmaker gave in to the people’s demand yesterday, Sept. 11, 2014 and has withdrawn his support for his own bill. (Weird as a dream, this is how they do it in Congress) But of course, this doesn’t mean House Bill 4807 is laid to rest.

34 thoughts on “HOUSE BILL 4807: END OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PHILIPPINES?

  1. The “loophole” here may be the “intent” language. if you do not “intend” to sell the photos, then it seems to me you are OK. But as we all know, “intent” is hard to establish. Seems to me “intent” burden is the problem of the prosecutor under “innocent until proven guilty.” They have to show intent, such as a record of selling photos. If they cannot show that, then where is “intent.”

  2. As always, Philippine lawmakers are like people obsessed with rearranging deckchairs by colour, while the ship they’re on is sinking. Who introduced the bill? There’s almost always a personal, selfish, self-protective reason behind these bills…I no longer believe that Pinoy lawmakers actually author anything with the good of the people in mind. there has to be personal gain, or they wouldn’t think of it.
    Intent is, indeed, the key upon which everything pivots. Also, laws are easy to pass within the cosseted halls of the House, but who will enforce these thousands of idiotic laws? Not the authors of the bill. Our government is made of paper. Doesn’t actually have any backbone. It is a fad; good intentions that we Pinoys never stick to for very long…people will forget soon enough, as they do everything else. Bide your time. No need to battle it out, more words and paper (only calls attention to yourself). Just wait for the cracks in the system to appear…and then carry on as always.

    1. The bill was penned by Congressman Rufus Rodriguez and his brother. I’m thinking the same thing too, somebody close to these politicians must have been victimize by a photographer. There are responsible photogs as there are rogue ones. When the state can’t flush out the good from the bad ones, it carpet-bombs the whole community. Burn the house to kill the rat policy.

  3. Reblogged this on MavShack and commented:
    If this Anti-Selfie Bill is going to pass, the essence of photojournalism is being curtailed and the art of photography is ruined. Hey, baboons of the Congress, think of a MORE SENSIBLE bill to be passed and could help in alleviating the problems in our country. Or these baboons are dumb enough to think of a bill to be implemented? Please do mind what this country needs, don’t imply laws just to impress our fellowmen or just for the sake that you did something during your term. Shallow minded law-makers.

      1. Exactly. When I read the article about this Anti-Selfie Bill, I can’t believe that this bill is now on its 3rd reading. Like, what the hell. Our country is facing tons of serious problems, then they’re about to implement this nonsense bill.

    1. Ang magkapatid na Cong. Rufus at Maximo Rodriguez and co-authored by Reps. Gwendolyn F. Garcia (3rd District, Cebu) Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica (4th District, Bulacan), Jose L. Atienza, Jr. (Party List, BUHAY) Leopoldo N. Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan).

  4. If I read it correctly, it’s no different to what we have here in Australia. So long as you are on a public place and are not aiming the camera directly at a specific person, you are not breaking the law. It’s only if you are inside a private place i.e. shopping centres, government buildings, or anywhere a normal member of the public cannot easily go to that you need permission.

    I’ve taken many photos wherein members of the public happen to be in it and no one has complained (of course I try and take them as soon as a person leaves my camera’s field of view as I’m after pure landscape shots).

    1. The core is, people should know how to respect each and everyone’s right to be left alone. Whether in the streets or in private places. As a street tog I always make sure I don’t inconvenience anybody. When you’re ‘invisible’ you dont disturb anybody I guess. And i don’t post images of people that would put them in bad light.

  5. they wanted this bill to be passed, so that incidents like the recent EDSA kidnapping cannot be documented and criminals (and
    cops) can get away with it.

    their “concern” over privacy is clearly just an alibi.

    these lawmakers who support the bill doesn’t want their asses photographed so they can do whatever they want.

  6. Here the USA, when bills are introduced into congress that are not popular, the people would lobby their representative to vote against it. There are so many ways to lobby, talk to your rep directly, send them letters or emails, a signature petition or online petition. An article about it would only inform the public. Once informed, they need to know how to act. These methods should be directed to representatives of congress and senate. When it’s time to Vote, they will remember that a lot of people oppose the bill and they would vote against it.

    Simple, let the other congressmen or congresswomen know the fact that the people are against the bill. Hopefully, they will heed the voice of the people. HOPEFULLY!

    But of course, they would not know unless they are informed.

      1. You know, his could advice could actually work theoretically in the Philippines. The problem is, most people in the Philippines DO NOT ACT. They see the problem, they rant, and that’s it. Sure there are some that do take some form of action but it’s not enough. The bill’s passed and everyone’s suddenly affected and bitter and the voting is here, the officials bribe them with money and empty promises then all of a sudden everything’s forgotten.

        This is honestly why and how we’re being taken advantage of by the government.

  7. Didn’t they realize that taking photos and videos somehow helps the authority find the suspect of a crime? Now people wouldn’t dare take photos/videos of an incident because it might get them in trouble. Why do we vote these lawmakers!

  8. hay, over na talaga ang law ng pinas!!! kahit photography pinapatulan na…. samantalang di naman nila naayos ang problema sa kanilang mismong tanggapan…. WTF………….. Photographers must unite as one, para mawala ang bisa ng 4807 na yan….

  9. meron padin puba neto ngayon ?
    Nag take kasi ako photo sa mall then sinita ako ng guard sabi ko diko naman pag kakakitaan fashion kulang to sabi sakin delete kudaw photo need kudaw permit sabi ko naman nasa public place daw sabi nya private daw tapos ng aalis nako hinawakan ako sa kamay , ng ayaw kupadin sabi ko hinaharas moko kuya tapos hinawakan ako sa braso sabay sabi ko harassment yan kuya tapos hinawakan ako sa Belt sa likod may dapat bakong gawin ?

  10. Lately I was trying to capture trail lights in overpasses. I am hesitant in trying, I am afraid na one day masita ako sa ginagawa ko but I love long exposure photography. It is just uncomfortable for me seeing people staring at you. Is it permissable to do that?

    1. As long as you’re in a public place, it’s okay. Nakakainis ang masita. But these things comes with photography. Live with it. People are always curious. They will stare at anything. Sanayan na lang. One day immune ka na rin. Cheers!

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