IN two columns last week, I commented on sixth district Rep. Luis Gabriel “Luigi” Quisumbing’s bill seeking to prohibit the media from conducting a live coverage of crisis situations.

Quisumbing furnished me a copy of the bill. In the spirit of fair play, here’s the content of the measure titled, “An Act Prohibiting Media Reporting of Police and Military Positions, Movements and Actions During Crisis situations.”

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Section 1. Declaration of policy--The State upholds the freedom of the press and the right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern. Moreover, it is the prime duty of the State to protect and serve the people. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.

Section 2--Unlawful Act--It shall be unlawful for any media person to report or present publicly the positions, movements and actions done by the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during crisis situations. The media coverage should be contained as not to hinder or obstruct efforts to resolve the situation. Crisis situation may include but not limited to the following circumstances; (1) hostage-taking, (2) bomb threats, (3) coup d'etat, and (4) kidnapping.

Section 3) Access of media--The PNP and the AFP may give updates to media but shall not provide vital information on operations, which may be used in support of or by the perpetrators during crisis situations. Once the situation has been resolved, the PNP and AFP will provide the full details of the operation and shall not restrict access or coverage by the media relative thereto.

Section 4) Penalty--Any person who shall violate this Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment from six months and one day to six years or a fine of P20,000 or both.

Section 5) Repealing Clause--All laws, Presidential Decrees, Executive Orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or immediately modified accordingly.

I think this is self-explanatory. Does this bill violate Section 4, Article 3 (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution, which is about freedom of the press?

(bobby@sunstar.com.ph/ bgnalzaro@gmanetwork.com)