Use blogs, not bills, to answer media, says PJ Garcia
LAWMAKERS unhappy with how they are portrayed in the press should just blog instead of pushing through with the right to reply bill, said Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district).
“I had past problems with the media,” Garcia said in a dySS interview last Saturday, “but I cannot support the right to reply bill.”
Program host and Sun.Star Cebu columnist Bobby Nalzaro thanked Garcia for his support as the Cebu media capped its celebration of the Cebu Press Freedom Week.
“Some congressmen nga init shouldn’t support the right to reply bill; they should just make a blog,” Garcia said.
The congressman, who comments on the media in his blog (www.onion-skinned.com), said technology has provided him with an outlet to address media criticisms.
As a former columnist and a former editor of The Philippine Collegian at the University of the Philippines, Garcia said he is a staunch supporter of press freedom.
“The basic tenet of press freedom is that no one can dictate the contents of the news, and legislating the right to reply means dictation,” said Garcia.
House Speaker Prospero Nograles, addressing a forum on media legislation during the Cebu Press Freedom Week, hinted he was inclined to support the right to reply bill.
But Nograles asked for the media’s stance on the matter, saying, “It is not gagging you… Give us your take on the bill and help us make a win-win (legislation).”
The Cebu Citizens Press Council (CCPC), composed of representatives from different media organizations and the private sector, has already made its stand on the bill and submitted a resolution to Congress through Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district).
“Journalists already practice the right to reply as part of individual and corporate standards and the news outlets’ accountability to their public audience,” the CCPC resolution read.
The latest version of the bill gives media companies three days to publish or broadcast the reply of anyone “accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense.”
Senate Bill 2150 states that the reply should be of the same length as the initial accusation and should not be edited, “except for libelous allegations.”
It proposes penalties of P10,000 to P30,000 for the editor-in-chief, publisher, station manager or owner of the media company that refuses to publish or air the reply.
The Senate approved in June this year the version prepared by Sens. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Ramon Revilla Jr. and Francis Escudero.