A group of photographers marched from historic Rizal Park to the walled city of Intramuros in the morning of the 115th Philippine Independence Day, June 12, 2013. The photo walk-protest was organized by Bawal Mag-Shoot Dito, a group of photographers and photography enthusiasts calling for freedom to take pictures in public and historic places.
“We declare our Independence Day as a day where every Filipino can freely take pictures. This is in response to the continuing abuse to camera-wielding Filipinos who are discriminated and barred from fully expressing their photography in historic and public sites in our country especially Rizal Park and Intramuros,” said Mel Cortez of Bawal Mag-Shoot Dito in a statement.
In the statement, the group condemned the practice by security personnel in Intramuros and Luneta where Digital SLR camera users are profiled and selectively prevented from taking pictures unless able to secure a permit and pay the park administrator.
They explained that unlike foreign nationals who are free to shoot around historic sites, professional photographers, photography hobbyists, and even Filipino tourists with cameras are discriminatively targeted with the no pay, no-shoot policy reserved to commercial photo shoots.
The group also reported that numerous photographers were asked to pay P500 by park guards so they can be allowed to have a pictorial instead of being required to pay the fees and arrange the requirements in the administration office.
Intramuros Administration charges P2,000 for a 4-hour prenuptial pictorial while the National Parks and Development Committee charges P1,000 in Rizal Park.
“In the first place, there is no official policy on not allowing photographers in taking pictures in historic sites. But the unclear policy of charging photographers presents ambiguity that creates loopholes and makes all camera-wielding Filipinos susceptible to abuse,” explained Cortez.
The group also asked incoming lawmakers to create legislation to declare historic and public sites as photographer-friendly.
“We firmly believe that promoting freedom of expression through photography will be beneficial to the country as it will promote the country’s heritage and tourism,” added Cortez.