Stupid, malicious-A A +A
Friday, August 23, 2013
IF I give Sen. Jinggoy Estrada the benefit of the doubt that he had no malice whatsoever in proposing (Senate Bill) SB 380, I would be left thinking he must be stupid to even think of it. But since I can’t believe he is stupid then he must be malicious. But, that is really saying he can be both stupid and malicious.
Indeed, one has to be stupid or malicious or both to come out with a bill that is so blatantly unconstitutional. Senator Estrada has just played us for idiots with the recent pork barrel scam. Now he wants us to accept this stupid bill like the idiots he insultingly thinks we are.
The bill’s author gives it the honeyed and scented title of Magna Carta (Great Charter) for Philippine Journalists. Indeed, it purports to professionalize reporters and photographers. It also legislates on the proper compensation, training and development of journalists. Well and good except for a rotten core provision that requires journalists to pass a “professional journalism examination” in order to be “accredited” by the Philippine Council for Journalists, the government agency that will draw up and enforce ethical guidelines for the profession.
The army of the Free Press, of which journalists are the foot soldiers, is tasked to watch the privileged and powerful few on behalf of the underprivileged and powerless majority. So, how stupid and malicious is it to require that the watchdogs be accredited (screened?) by the government which is one of the institutions journalists are tasked to watch? How can freedom of the press not be compromised when watchdogs are regulated and “cared for” by those they are watching?
Furthermore, what qualifies the government to “accredit” journalists? They will have to employ professional journalists to do this? So, how free are government-employed journalists to exercise their baby-sitting duties? Besides, what decent journalism professional would allow himself/herself to be employed by the government to regulate, accredit and otherwise abridge the freedom of fellow journalists?
The bill is utterly unconstitutional. Article III of the Philippine Constitution is unequivocal in forbidding any law “abridging the freedom of speech, of expression and of the press…” I am stunned in disbelief that Senator Estrada can be stupid enough not to see that the fee alone for “accreditation” already cramps a reporter’s style.
If the good senator wants to help journalists, he should work for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill so the latter can become more effective watchdogs. If he has anything to hide he should worry more about the millions of netizens watching him and the likes of him on social media. Good luck “taking care” of them, Mr. Senator.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2013.