Press Release
October 2, 2006


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, rose from her sickbed to argue that a billboard law is constitutional, citing a litany of no less than ten cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Santiago delivered a scathing privilege-cum-sponsorship speech entitled, We are Living in Billboard Hell, denouncing the annual P1.8 billion outdoor advertising industry, whom she charged with corporate greed, without any sense of shared destiny.

Billboards are a form of commercial speech, which can be prohibited under the police power of the state, Santiago said.

Previously, Santiago filed and conducted a public hearing on Senate Bill No. 1714, entitled The Anti-Billboard Blight Act of 2006.

The Santiago bill imposes an outright ban on: billboards on highways that obstruct or obscure the view of vehicular or pedestrian traffic; billboards in residential areas; billboards on any public property such as streets and highways, telephone or utility poles; and billboards on the roof of any building. The proposed ban is effective immediately.

Santiago said the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP) cited the Top Ten billboard advertisers as: Globe, Bench, Marlboro, Chowking, Penshoppe, Jollibee, PLDT, Smart, Greenwich, and Tokyo-Tokyo.

All your high technology and rationalizing glossolalia will not resurrect those who are dead, she said.

The senator said she has written a letter to President Arroyo, respectfully recommending that the Santiago bill should be certified as urgent.

The senator added that she also wrote the Supreme Court, thru Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, respectfully recommending the issuance of a memorandum-circular to all judges, prohibiting the issuance of temporary restraining orders, or TROs, in cases involving billboards.

Santiago told the Senate media that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez was correct in calling attention to the constitutional aspect of any billboard ban, but explained that the issue of constitutionality has long been settled in American decided cases.

She also commended the OAAP for assuming full responsibility for billboard-caused death and damage, but said that its members will simply have to accept that the call of the hour is for a billboard ban.

The senator said critics of the billboard ban, particularly those citing potential lost income and employment, are singing hymns to exploitative capitalist economics.

Santiago said that even before Congress passes a law, local Building Officials and mayors can already remove illegal billboards and sue their owners under Civil Code provisions on public nuisance.

The senator said that as early as 1965, the US Congress already passed the Highways Beautification Act, and later in 2004 the Penn Township passed the Anti-Billboard Blight Act, which she copied and filed in the Senate.

Santiago, suffering from anorexia, rushed home after her speech and requested Sen. Aquilino Pimentel to answer interpellation. Pimentel is also an advocate of a billboard ban on highways.

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