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Legality, relevance, authenticity, morality in the sex video issue

There is a law, Republic Act 9995, “An act defining and penalizing the crime of photo and video voyeurism , prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes,” approved by the 14th Congress in 2010. This 17h Congress might want to review it in connection with the insistence of some House leaders that an alleged sex video of Sen. Leila de Lima be shown in a hearing investigating the proliferation of drugs in the National Penitentiary at Bilibid.

The law expressly declares it unlawful to take a photo or video of a sexual act. It provides that any such photo or video is inadmissible evidence in any judicial, legislative, or administrative hearing, unless it is evidence essential to the conviction of a person or the solution of a crime.

This is among the reasons cited by a group of 48 legislators, 35 of them women, led bv Dinagat Island Rep. Kaka Bag-ao in opposing the sex video plan. It is also irrelevant, the group said, as the hearing is supposed to be about drugs at the penitentiary. It came to involve Senator De Lima as alleged recipient of funds from imprisoned drug lords. The alleged sex relationship with her driver seems a bit irrelevant or immaterial.

There is also the question of authenticity in these days when photos and videos are so easy to manipulate – photo-shopping, it is called.

And, finally there is the point raised by the 48 legislators who have made their stand known to the speaker – it is a violation of women’s rights. It is the kind of film that belongs to backrooms and illegal movie houses, not in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list has asked the House leadership to end the probe of drugs in the penitentiary and start drafting needed legislation. If the Department of Justice has sufficient evidence linking Senator De Lima, he added, let it now file charges against her. The sex video is immaterial and unnecessary, he said.

The House Committee on Justice headed by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali is scheduled to meet tomorrow and he said the committee will vote on the matter. We hope it will give due consideration to the issues raised by so many of their colleagues in the House – the issues of legality, relevance, authenticity, and morality.