50 shades of graphicality: The constitutionality of the prohibitions on immoral, obscene, and indecent art

Date of Publication


Document Type

Bachelor's Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Legal Management

Subject Categories

Civil Rights and Discrimination


Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business


Commercial Law

Thesis Adviser

Karen Andrea Torres

Defense Panel Chair

Antonio A. Ligob

Defense Panel Member

Ma. Cecilia Jimenez


The article 201 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes a person for publication of materials considered obscene (such as glorification of crimes, pornography and violence, actions contrary to law or public order, abetting and trafficking of drugs, and offending race and religion). The researchers sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Article for its vagueness (which is a violation of due process), its encroachment on the freedom of speech and expression, and curtailment of free exercise of religion.

With this, two state interests were balanced: (a) welfare of the public, at large, on one hand, and (b) artistic freedom of an individual on the other.

Based on extensive study, the researchers were able to establish that: (a) Article 201 is in exercise of the state's police power and (b) in principle, the curtailment of speech by Article 201 is not censorship for censorship sake, but is a device to maintain public order by upholding what the public considers as moral. (That the power is abused does not make Article 201 unconstitutional.)

Article 201 is under title six of the Revised Penal Code on Crimes Against Public Morals. What is sought to be curbed is not speech per se, but its impact on the public, based on the public's judgement of what is moral. (Morality, after all, is the society's collective judgement.) This is why what is punished is not the utterance of a thought or emotion, but its publication and exhibition. This is because once speech is beyond the realm of the private, i.e., it is made in public, it has an impact which the state, as a matter of policy, considers as disruptive.

Therefore, the researchers are of the opinion that the exercise of police power via Article 201 is reasonable. Its purpose is to prevent the expected negative impact of said scenes to the society, and to keep the society in order. However, it is also concluded that encroachment upon rights guaranteed in our Constitution should be restricted in the least possible way, which the challenged penal law is lacking. As a result of this, our proposed law maintains the existence to the purpose of police power, and at the same time sets guidelines on the extent of restrictions that may be made in curtailing our constitutional rights.

The researchers came up with the above conclusions through the study of literature on the impact of public speech in the public's behavior, and survey of local and foreign jurisprudence [focusing on the weighing of the two (2) state interests].

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F, Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

[5], 131 leaves, illustrations (some color), 28 cm.


Obscenity (Law)--Philippines

Embargo Period


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