Photographers protest ‘privacy’ bill

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Monday, August 25, 2014


CAGAYAN de Oro-based photojournalists and photographers have expressed their opposition to the approval, on second reading, of House Bill 4807 at the House of Representatives Thursday last week, August 21.

The bill, also known as Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act, is a substitute to House Bill 3548, Right to Privacy, will penalize photographers and videographers that will intrude people’s privacy through the use of high-end telephoto lenses and microphones for profit or commercial purposes.

The city’s second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez, author of HB 4807, said the bill would help the people have their own privacy whenever they are inside their homes.

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“There are so many photographers, videographers today who use their high-end devices to capture photos and have them printed or published in newspapers or in the internet. Sometimes, they also wiretap invading the person’s privacy. This bill can definitely help them,” Rodriguez told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Monday.

“Those people who are in their houses, yards, gardens, should not be taken photos or videos by photographers,” he added.

However, MindaNews photo editor Froilan Gallardo disagrees with the bill saying the proposed legislation is not the answer in “achieving privacy” since it has not been properly defined.

“The right thing man gud is always self-regulation, not imposing penalties. Photographers are matured enough to strictly follow the Code of Ethics which include the respect for privacy. The code even delineates which is public or private property. Our lawmakers have a tendency man gud to impose laws without proper consultations with stakeholders. Ang labas, murag Martial Law among those who will be affected,” Gallardo posted on his Facebook wall.

Proper parameters have not been included in the bill, he added.

“The lawmakers did not even consult photographers, the photojournalists, and the videographers themselves, wala,” he said.

Besides, Gallardo added, it is in included in the Code of Ethics in Journalism what photographers and/or photojournalists should do.

“I believe we know what to do, when to take pictures, and when not to,” he told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro last Saturday.

For street photographers Teo Esguerra and Reuben Muaña, they opposed the bill since its passage will only hinder their craft.

“I take pictures of people, events and anything under the sun. I completely would want to disregard this bill. How are we supposed to express our art if this bill were to be passed? Besides, it is not like we do this to exploit people,” Muaña said.

“How do they define privacy? It is not even included in the bill,” he said.

Esguerra, however, said there are more important things lawmakers could focus on.

“Walang kwenta talaga. Sino ba may pakialam na makuhanan ng photo (It’s so useless. Who cares if photos of them are taken). Those who are keeping themselves from the public are those actually famous like actors and actresses. In short, it is a selfish bill,” he added.

Rodriguez said he and the co-authors of the bill will call a press conference in the Congressional hearing.

“When the hearing will be conducted, we will invite the media and have them speak. They will definitely be called, [be] rest assured of that,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 26, 2014.

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