Right of reply bill filed anew in Congress-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
WHILE the pro-transparency freedom of information (FOI) bill is yet to be enacted into law, a neophyte lawmaker has re-filed a right of reply (ROR) bill, which aims to "expand the exercise of freedom of expression."
Camiguin Representative Xavier Jesus Romualdo revived the proposal of his late father, former Representative Pedro Romualdo, to require media entities to publish or air the views of public officials who may be affected by allegations and false statements.
"Equal opportunity shall be given to those persons affected by the actions, statements, rumors and other mischievous statements of the media," said Romualdo in filing House Bill 2366 or the ROR bill.
"The right of reply bill does not curtail nor trample the freedom of expression. The intent of the bill is to expand the exercise of freedom of expression, as this is not a monopoly of the media,” he pointed out.
House Bill 2366 provides that every person, whether natural or juridical, who is the subject of allegations or insinuations of wrongdoing shall have the right to reply to any report or feature printed in a newspaper, magazine, newsletter, or any other publication, website, blog, or any other form of social media or aired or broadcasted over radio or television, whether or not operated for profit.
The measure also provides that the reply shall be published, printed, aired or broadcasted not later than three days after the reply shall have been delivered to the owner, author, producer, publisher, responsible manager or officer, or editorial office of the publication or television and radio station concern.
Media companies who fail or refuse to publish, print, air, or broadcast the reply as required in the proposed Act shall be fined P20,000 for their first offense, P30,000 for the second offense, and P50,000 for the third offense. Thereafter, for subsequent failures or refusals to publish, print, air or broadcast the reply as required herein, a fine of P100,000 shall be imposed.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., one of the proponents of the FOI bill, said the ROR bill is not a threat to the enactment of the pro-transparency measure.
“I think it’s good he didn’t incorporate it in an FOI bill. Otherwise, we’d be forced to consolidate right of reply in our FOI bills,” Baguilat said.
In the past, several lawmakers proposed that an ROR provision be included in the FOI bill. The 15th Congress lacked substantial time to discuss and approve the FOI bill despite the commitment of the Aquino government to have it enacted. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)