Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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House passes 2 bills to help press

March 31st, 2009 · No Comments

House passes 2 bills aimed to help the press
Sun.Star Cebu, March 31, 2009

THE House of Representatives forwarded to the Senate five bills the House has just approved, including two that involve and concern the press.

The House, through  Secretary General Marilyn D. Barua-Yap, requested the concurrence of the Senate.

The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) which recommended the bills and even helped in their drafting was informed of the House action during its last quarterly meeting at the MBF Cebu Press Center last Thursday, March 26.

The media-related bills are the following:

  • House Bill 431, which provides that the venue for the criminal and civil action in libel cases against community newspapers shall be the principal office of business.
  • House Bill 430, which amends Republic Act 53 to expand it to include not just print but also broadcast and Internet journalists in the privilege of not disclosing their source of information unless demanded by the security  of the state.

House Bill 431 on the venue of libel is co-authored by Reps. Raul del Mar, Matias Defensor Jr., Eduardo Gullas, Amelita Villarosa, Eufrocino Codilla Sr., Neptali Gonzales, Del De Guzman, Victor Agbayani, Rene Velarde, and Roman Romulo.

House Bill 430 enlarging the privilege of non-disclosure of source is co-authored by Reps. Raul del Mar, Edgar Chatto, Bienvenido Abante Jr., Jeci Lapus, Juan Edgardo Angara, Irwin Tieng, and Eduardo Zialcita.

The two bills, if passed by the Senate and enacted into law, will tremendously help community journalists and journalism, Pachico Seares, CCPC executive director, said.

Community journalists who are dragged to courts far away from their base of publication will be spared the excessive cost and hassle, Seares said.

As to the amendment to the so-called Sotto Law, he said, an anomaly of several decades, the exclusion of broadcasters from the privilege, will be corrected. The Sotto Law’s defect was exposed by Regional Trial Court Judge Gabriel Ingles in one Cebu Press Freedom Week forum in 2003.

CCPC members expressed the hope that the Senate will pass the two bills that will help uphold press freedom and accountability.

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