Santiago seeks penalty vs use of gadgets in shows, theaters

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10:58 AM January 29th, 2013

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By: Maila Ager, January 29th, 2013 10:58 AM

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago  has filed a  bill seeking to penalize  the use of mobile phones, two-way radios and  other  electronic visual devices  inside  movie theaters, concert halls and other similar places.

Under  Senate Bill 3384 known as “The Silent Mode Act,”  mobile telephones two-way radios and audio visual electronic devices  should be turned off or placed on  vibrate or silent mode at all  times inside movie theaters, concert halls and auditoriums and “any  other indoor venue  in  which theatrical, musical,  dance  cinema,  lecture or other  similar public performances are exhibited.”

“Patrons must  leave  the theater or move to an  area where they cannot be heard, in order to make or answer a call or otherwise use the device,” it said.

Any person who will violate the proposed bill will be escorted out of the venue immediately.

“Before every performance,  the  establishment shall issue a  reminder to the audience to turn off their gadgets or put them on silent mode. It shall also be their obligation to post copies of this Act at the entrance of the venue in plain view of patrons,”  the  bill added.

A person caught violating this proposed bill would  be  slapped with  a P500 fine for the first offense; P1,000 for second offense and P3,000 for third offense.

In filing  the  measure , Santiago noted how difficult it was to  discourage  people  from  carrying  their gadges into movie theaters, concert halls and other areas where performances are held.

“In such places, noises made from the use of phones and other gadgets are a nuisance to  the rest of the audience, who have paid to see the performance.

Unfortunately, despite repeated reminders from theater operators to turn off cel phones or  complaints from  other  members  of the  audience who are  bothered  by  the  noise,  many  patrons continue using these devices in the midst of a show,” she said.

“The bright light from screens and the noise generated from people who  answer calls, play
games, surf the Internet and  access other media on their electronic gadgets  are  highly disruptive in closed spaces; their conduct distracts others from their purpose for being in the theatre,” said he senator.

But without the prospect of facing  any  consequences for such disruptive behavior, Santiago said, it would  be easy to  disregard polite requests to stop using these devices.

“Hence, it is time to  establish a  aw with  corresponding  penalties to  marshal  rude  gadget users  and  allow other patrons to  fully  appreciate and  enjoy the performance,” she said.

“Jurisprudence has  consistently upheld the  government’s right  to  impose  restraints  which  regulate  the  time,  place  and  manner  of expression  in  public places,” she further said.

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