BAGUIO CITY — The distance to Manila is not a barrier for journalists here to join their national counterpart on the snowballing opposition to the Right of Reply Bill
Believed by media practitioners as a measure that would abridge the freedoms of the press and of expression, the Right of Reply Bill is the subject of a media forum next week.
As their concrete contribution to discuss the substance of the bill and its effect on the profession, media practitioners, including publishers and editors, will participate in a round table discussion on the issue on Saturday, March 7, at 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. at the People’s Multi-Purpose Hall at the Baguio City Hall.
The speakers include Sonny Fernandez, national secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), a prime mover of the move to oppose the said bill. Panel of reactors from the editors, publishers and practitioners will also share their ideas on the Right of Reply Bill.
Senate Bill No. 2150 and House Bill No. 3306 are entitled, “An act granting the right of reply and providing penalties for violation thereof.”The Senate version was already passed in third reading while the House version is allegedly being fast tracked by members of the said body.
Right of Reply is defined by both bills as “All persons natural or juridical who are accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or to criticisms aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic device.”
A statement of unity signed by various media practitioners from the national and local levels still gains signatures via the internet as more claims that the bill was adopted without prior consultations from the stakeholders.
Desiree Caluza, secretary-general of the NUJP Baguio-Benguet, said the bill should be opposed because it clearly violates the objectives of journalism and press freedom in general.
It disrespects the freedom, intelligence and enterprise of news people to deliver quality news stories,” added Caluza, who is also a member of the NUJP national directorate, the highest policy making body in between the general assembly done every two years. She added “Only trapos” (or traditional politicians) who do not know the spirit of press freedom, fought for by the people in EDSA 1, will benefit from this bill.”
Another NUJP Baguio – Benguet officer Rimaliza Opina added the bill should be opposed because the proposed law would delegate editorial job to the government . The journalism code of ethics should be strictly implemented by media outfits instead,” Opina ended.
The authors of the Senate Bill are Senators Aquilino Q. Nene Pimentel, Ramon Revilla, Jr., and Francis Escudero while the authors of the House version are Representatives Angara, Puentevella, Fua, Abante, Lapus, Tieng and Zialcita. # Northern Dispatch