House of Representatives to pass Right of Reply bill tonight?

On June 3, 2009, the House of Representatives adjourned without passing the Right of Reply Bill.
Word is that the House of Representatives will approve the Right of Reply bill tonight, June 3, in a marathon session that will last into the wee hours of the morning. Those who are against it, protest while you still can. Meanwhile, I am reposting the Foreign Correspondent’s Association of the Philippines’ (FOCAP) position on the issue.

FOCAP Statement on Right of Reply Bill

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) strongly opposes the Right of Reply Bill being deliberated in Congress and calls on legislators to withdraw support for the measure.

If passed into law, the proposed legislation will violate freedom of the press. It constitutes prior restraint and interferes with editorial judgment by telling reporters and editors what and what not to write, publish and broadcast. In addition, it decides how much space and time should be given to one side of the story, undermining editorial discretion in consideration of other news stories of greater public interest.

FOCAP strongly doubts claims that the proposed law would help end media killings. We believe the only way to stop media killings is a determined effort by authorities and concerned citizens to eradicate the culture of impunity in the Philippines by catching the killers and masterminds, prosecuting and convicting them in a swift and convincing manner. Using this “right” to stop murder is like using a slingshot to kill a tiger.

The bill goes against the Philippine Constitution, which clearly states that there should be no law passed to abridge the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peacably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. As a professional group established at the height of martial law purposely to overcome media controls, FOCAP is keenly aware of and is sensitive to any threats to a free press.

The bill is unnecessary. It is a basic right of anyone to defend himself anywhere, including in the media. Persons who somehow feel aggrieved by what appears in the media have many ways to protect and defend their rights and interests. They can write to complain to the media entity or the journalists concerned or even bring a case to court.

In many instances, it is actually more difficult for the media to get replies from persons who are subject of news stories. We, as journalists, have often faced numerous obstacles in getting comments from concerned parties. What we ought to have instead is a law that compels people — especially government officials and corporations — to reply, react or comment when public interest is affected. Congress also should speed up passage of a Freedom of Information Act.

FOCAP believes that only the principle of fair play and balanced reporting – the hallmarks of responsible journalism – will ensure that the “other side” is given a voice in any media platform. Legislating this just won’t work.

FOCAP, which represents leading global news organizations, further believes that a free press is a cornerstone of democracy, acting as a counter-balance against possible abuses of power. A free press is itself the defensive weapon against abuses in media.
We join our Philippine colleagues in rejecting this proposed legislation.


5 Responses

  1. As a former journalist, and a member and officer of FOCAP, I would like to express my solidarity with its stand on the issue. Disappointing, frustrating and downright disgusting are understatements when we take into consideration what we (i as a student activist then) have all fought for and struggled against in order to restore our freedom – most especially the freedom of the press, speech, and expression.

    The dictatorship that we Filipinos got rid of has now been replaced by the dictatorship of the mob – the mob of politicians and legislators who think alike and simply think of their own self-interest.

    While we Filipinos have been globally admired for all our positive traits and achievements, it seems that self-destruction is also inherent in us. We seem to get the message all wrong out of the saying that, ‘Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.’ Instead of moving forward and learning lessons from the past, we tend to relish its nostalgia, go back to it and relive it…which is why we end up being so far behind from our very own ASEAN neighbours.

    • hi abet! nice to hear from you. πŸ™‚

      • Hi Dana,

        It’s great to be connected with you guys again. Thanks to your blogsite nga ba ang tawag dito?

        Keep it up!


      • para ka bang nag-attend ng presscon? hehehe. sayang naman kasi ang mga transcripts ko, share ko na lang with the general public.
        facebook din, bok, dami andun. nauuna na ang balita sa facebook bago lumabas sa radyo o tv. really.
        kumusta mo ko kay el and popoy, and of course malen. πŸ™‚


  2. I found very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. keep it that way.

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