“This website has been ordered blocked under authority of the Philippine Government pursuant to Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Law,” the page states, even after eternally hitting refresh on that once-accessible porn site in our incognito tab. Whether we see it as a wreck to the core, an ultimate heartbreak, or the start of a riot, there’s a long story behind this ban that might make us understand why we faced this farewell—and why we lost the X we never imagined losing.
The ban wagon
It was on January 14 when people started to notice the ban—a magnitude that almost shook the Philippine stream of internet in a silent clasp. Many were triggered, whether they want to admit it or not, but it wasn’t like the general community would blurt out large protests—for pornography is and has always been a taboo. Even worse than the loss was the absence of a formal goodbye, a last tight hug in the “Ang sabi mo walang hanggan ba’t andito tayo sa dulo” song.
The government extending such constraint wasn’t expected, especially for a country with a universal and often illogical excuse for liberty—freedom of speech and expression and the like. The main reason for the banning of the most visited porn sites was primarily unclear to the appalled netizens. Nothing else seemed like an obvious reason aside from the fact that it appeared like the Philippines’ grand New Year’s resolution.
We can’t really blame them for wanting to change things because of all the things to prove, Philippines soared among the world’s longest Pornhub visits in 2016 with 12 minutes and 45 seconds. Not long after Pornhub released the list, Philippines followed Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia in banning online pornography.
The government order was later confirmed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that all internet service providers were given the directive to remove porn sites that contain child-pornography—with normal porn sites getting banned in the collateral damage. Despite the command, at this time being, not all internet service providers have complied.
Defying the taboo is the outrage of the netizens fully questioning the ban. However, this time, the issue is no longer simply about clashing perspectives, but something bigger than a millennial mourn or a generic lust lever. Because all jokes aside, there’s defiance that is beyond a taboo—but of humanity itself.
A different lullaby
Truth is, children and pornography should never belong in the same sentence. It’s a terror to disrupt the growth of a young mind with the influence of sexually explicit videos; but making it a real deal of a tragedy is the involvement of children not just in watching pornography—but in the act itself.
The “Savage girl” cyber pornography crime made headlines not long after the ban—and these were not for the faint of heart, not even for the strongest ones. Liezyl Margallo lived a luxurious life, but for a long time, she hid an evilness which no stranger would suspect from anyone. Margallo’s arrest revealed a hellish business with Australian Peter Gerard Scully, her pedophile live-in partner. Their ill industry cost the lives of a total of 11 children traded for sexual brutality, unbearable torture, and wretched death—all slid in paid MPEGs circulating in the dark web. Margallo shook the internet upside down with the question of how on earth a human could torture and murder innocents with such depravity. With this, it banged the door open to the terrible reality that lives are actually sold in the cyber world—and porn plays a dark role in it.
This is where the government’s effort to ban identified sites containing child pornography makes sense. It’s a wake-up call that is not just alarming—but rather trembling and at the least, shattering. In a vast pool of poverty like the Philippines, it might be a close choice for struggling parents to sell their children to sadistic molesters. Worse is for the children to be lured to the “better future” they promise—only to be cradled away from the sweet side of the world, on a lullaby of pain, screams, and then all at once—eternal silence.
While the sea of arguments for this banning action splits between yay and nay, the situation does touch a several more shores of issues. Some people say it’s just another of the government’s far shots, a solution that hits no point, or a wishful wipe-out attempt—hinting that over and over, we try so hard to change the nation overnight. However, the great intention is that this action helps the decline of child pornography—especially if the “savage girl” case might just happen again. This, and the entire set of societal ill, is why we lost our X—and perhaps even gained back some humanity.