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Court orders MMDA to leave billboards alone

The Makati Regional Trial Court has issued an injunction preventing the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from policing the outdoor advertising industry.

The order prevents the MMDA or any other government agency from “confiscating, rolling down and/or demolishing or otherwise dismantling the billboards of Petitioners and all other entities similarly engaged in the business of outdoor media advertising on the basis of non-compliance.”

This negates the Metro Manila Outdoor Media Magna Carta, signed by the MMDA and industry groups last September to standardize the size and appearance of billboards in major thoroughfares in Metro Manila next year.

The Outdoor Media Advocacy Group (OMAG) said that the order was issued last 25 October in response to a petition they filed about the Magna Carta’s inconsistencies with existing laws.

The group is referring to Presidential Decree 1096, or the National Building Code (NBC) and its Amended Rules and Regulations (ARR), which has been looking after structures such as billboards in the country for decades.

OMAG also revealed the MMDA proceeded to dismantle billboard sites despite having existing permits, causing them “significant business losses.”

OMAG Executive Director, Atty. Troy Banez explained that the injunction, though filed by the OMAG members, also protects all other outdoor media companies from the MMDA.

“This is an important development not just for OMAG – but for the rest of the outdoor media industry in the Philippines, whose very existence was being threatened by the extra-legal issuances and actions of the MMDA,” Banez added.

He said it is high time for a “law that is truly reflective of and responsive to the rightful role that outdoor media plays in the Philippines.”

“Outdoor media has evolved since the NBC was enacted in 1946 and the ARR was laid down in 2007. What we urgently need is a law on outdoor media that is set in the context of the here and now, even as it presciently peers into the technological, economic and environmental landscapes of the future,” he concluded.

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