Sunday, May 3, 2009

Right of Reply Bill: Muzzle to Press Freedom

After the blatant extermination of hard-hitting journalists, now numbering to 61 (2008) journalists killed since GMA took office, the legislative branch of the Republic of the Philippines has decided to take it’s battle against “erroneous” reports and “irresponsible” journalism to a different arena. Over the next few days, we might not be able to read, see or hear news in newspapers, radio or televisions, instead, we’ll be seeing more of statements and rationalizations of politicians who become embroiled in news reports. On December 2007, the Lower House has filed the Right of Reply Bill or House Bill 3306.

The Right of Reply Bill is a bill that “seeks the granting to the right to reply to all persons accused directly or indirectly of having committed a crime” to “charges committed in all forms of mass media, websites or through any electronic device.”

This bill invokes justice and fairness in mass media coverage. Indeed, for one’s name to be dragged into exposés yet to be proven is not nice at all. It is also unfair for a politician, or any one for that matter to have their names plastered all over the news for crimes they claim they have not done. Therefore, this bill is heaven-sent to powerful people as the media who points an accussing finger to them will be compelled to run their answers in defense of their innocence.

However in reality, the Right of Reply Bill is nothing but a muzzle to silence journalists from exposing the irregularities in the government and keeping the people informed. For who else are almost always involved in multi-million scams? Who else are making the most noise when their rights are violated? Who have more than enough money to have those replies printed, aired and shown? They are not the small time drug addicts in the slums. Nor the feisty pick-up girl with blue hair. They are certainly not the sidewalk vendors always accused of defacing the metro landscape. Isn’t it an open secret that people who have the most to hide are precisely those in power who gain most from transactions that the masa should be benifitting from?

The Right of Reply Bill is a deceptive bill na seeks nothing but curtail what the people see and know. It is a legislated form of terrorism that will serve no one except those in power. It has already received a lot of flak from militant congressmen and people in the mass media. Let us make sure this bill remains shelved and never see the light of day at all.

This is the copy of the text, feel free to download and read through it.
House Bill 3306 Right to Reply House Bill 3306 Right to Reply tonyocruz Full text of House Bill 3306

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