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Philippine censors reaffirm cuts in Schindler's List

MANILA, March 3 -- Government censors refused Thursday to restore cuts of sexually explicit scenes in the film Schindler's List that prompted producer Steven Spielberg to pull the holocaust epic from Philippine theaters.

'The board stands by its decision,' the Movie Television Review and Classification Board said in a statement. 'To make an exemption and allow Schindler's List to be shown uncut would be like welcoming back porno movies.'

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Henrietta Mendez, head of the censorship panel, appealed to Spielberg to reconsider his decision to withdraw the movie unless a brief lovemaking scene and two others that showed bared breasts were restored.

The contract under which Schindler's List is distributed stipulates it be withdrawn if any part of the film is tampered with.

'We cannot show any film that will compromise the morals of Filipinos,' Mendez said. 'We have to stand up for our values.'

It was the first time the film had been pulled from a country's theaters, although it has been banned by Malaysia and Indonesia for containing material offensive to their Muslim majorities.

The widely acclaimed film, which has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, had premiered in selected Manila theaters Sunday and was scheduled to open throughout the capital Wednesday.

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The removal of three scenes described by the censors as 'immoral' has touched off a storm of criticism about government censorship and has revived calls for the abolition of the MTRCB.

'I think it is absolutely idiotic,' said Haydee Yorac, a law professor and former senior government official. 'Those people don't understand art or the constitution.'

President Fidel Ramos has ordered a review of the censorship board's decision by his executive secretary, Teofisto Guingona, which is expected to be completed next week.

But Lucas Pasilao, Philippine head of Warner Brothers which distributed the movie, said he would not appeal the censors decision. 'We don't want to violate the law,' he said.

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