Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

CCPC seeks FOI bill, Sotto bill amendment passage

November 29th, 2012 · No Comments

Nov. 29, 2012

The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) will inform Sen. Gringo Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, that CCPC has asked for the immediate passage of two bills: Freedom of Information Act and the amendment of the Sotto Law.

Honasan will hold a consultation with a group of print and broadcast journalists at noon in Cebu City on Nov. 30, 2012. The two bills will be discussed.

Pachico Seares, CCPC executive director, said CCPC, in its 28th en banc quarterly meeting last Sept. 20, 2012, adopted a resolution asking President Aquino and Congress to enact the long-delayed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Last Tuesday, the House committee on public information passed the FOI bill without the right of reply (ROR) provision. An opposition group in the House, however, threatened to block the bill if the ROR would not be included.

Seares said the ROR bill is an entirely separate issue involving constitutional rights that shouldn’t be lumped with the FOI bill as a trade-off.

On the feared abuse of rights by journalists, he said other laws are already in place to curb any media excess.

Sotto Law
As to the Sotto Law, Seares said CCPC took its position as early as 2006 in a resolution that supported House Bill 2960, filed by then congressman Raul del Mar of Cebu City north.

The House bill would extend the protection of the Sotto Law, under which journalists cannot be compelled to reveal their sources, to broadcast or electronic journalists and Internet writers.

Seares said the amendment would correct an anomaly of several decades, the exclusion of broadcasters from the privilege.

Five bills currently pending in the Senate propose the amendment of the Sotto Law.

“It’s long overdue. Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Ingles was still a Regional Trial Court judge when he pointed out the discrepancy at a 2003 Cebu Press Freedom Week forum,” Seares said.

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions

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