Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian calls sexy Bench billboards "inappropriate for kids," MMDA supports their removal
(SPOT.ph) Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian has explained that the four Bench billboards featuring underwear-clad national rugby team players along EDSA-Guadalupe were inappropriate for children, reports Manila Bulletin. Earlier reports show that Gatchalian informed Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos about the lewd billboards, and the latter proceeded to have them dismantled.
"Kung sa ibang tao, tingin nila ito ay artistic, ito ay maganda; pero sa ibang tao, ito ay offensive at ito ay hindi maayos, lalong-lalo na sa ating mga kabataan (There are people who thought these were artistic, but there were others who found it offensive. They were inappropriate, especially for children," he told PEP.ph. He added that many people disapproved of the ads but didn't know what to do about them. "Ako lang siguro ang may access kay Mayor Benhur (Abalos) at sinabi ko naman sa kanya na, ’Pare pakitingin naman ito at tingin ko hindi tama ’to sa mga bata (I'm the only one who had access to Mayor Benhur (Abalos) and I told him, ' can you check these billboards because I don't think they're for kids).'" Gatchalian explained that his concern wasn't so much about the content of the ads but rather, how they were placed in a prominent part of EDSA.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) backed the actions of the two mayors. On the radio show, Magandang Morning with Julius and Tintin, MMDA chair Francis Tolentino said, "Ang ginawa ni Mayor Abalos ay tama. Sinusuportahan namin iyan. Consistent iyan sa National Building Code at consistent din iyan sa Section 16 ng General Welfare Clause ng Local Government Code." He added that the billboards also violated size restrictions.
The issue of provocative billboards along prominent roads like EDSA isn't new. In 2009, Manila Bulletin reported that the DPWH dismantled at least 37 billboards along national roads. Then DPWH assistant director Armando Estrella said such billboards were "hazardous" and could potentially "distract" motorists.
Members of the national rugby team, the Philippine Volcanoes, took to Twitter to express their thoughts about the removal. Ned Stephenson, who was featured in the billboards, tweeted: "Heard bout the billboards being taken down! But thank you all for supporting the @PhilippineRugby." In another tweet, he wrote, "Well its to help promote rugby I don't think its that bad to be honest there's more 'mahalay' billboards." Andrew Wolff, however, took a crack at Abalos, tweeting: "Pwede bang patanggal din ang sangkatutak na mga billboard ni Mr A. sa Manda.? Kailangan bang makita ka sa bawat kanto (Can we also remove the numerous billboards of Mr. A. in Mandaluyong? Should we have to see him in every corner)?"
Retail giant Bench, however, has yet to make a statement. An ABS-CBN report also warned that other sexy and lewd billboards might be slated for removal. According to the report, Gatchalian intends to regulate ads on major thoroughfares.