DAVAO CITY – An organization of the country’s photojournalists on Friday slammed House Bill 4807, or the Protection against Personal Intrusion Act, saying it “suppresses press freedom.”
The Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP) said House Bill 4807 is targeting the “journalists and other people who are working in the media industry.”
Mike Alquinto, chairman of the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines, said that some provisions in the bill are vague and could be subjected to various interpretations.
HB 4807 defines “intrusion of personal privacy” as “any person who willfully intrudes into the personal privacy of another, without the consent of that person and with the intent to gain or profit therefrom, shall be civilly liable to the offended party.”
“The phrase ‘intent to gain or profit’, must be clearly defined because media outfits are basically for profit organizations,” Alquinto said.
“There must be clear provisions that specify that news gathering must be exempted from this section,” Alquinto said, adding that “the proposed measure can become a tool for “unwilling public figures to suppress press freedom.”
He said the provisions of the proposed measure should not apply to news gathering because “some provisions of the law can be used to target enterprising journalists”.
HB 4807 listed those acts to include “capturing by a camera or sound recording instrument of any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of the person; trespassing on private property in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of any person”.
A portion of Section 4 of the bill, states that the aggrieved person may file a civil action against the person who committed the intrusion to “obtain any appropriate relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive and declaratory relief”.
“Our apprehension is based on the premise that the act being made punishable by this proposed measure is not clearly defined to the point that other acts can be considered unlawful by virtue of the statute,” he said.
Barry Ohaylan, Pinoy Weekly’s photojournalist, said: “Mahikawan ang mga tao na magpicture sa open/public kay naay balaud nga pwede sila mapriso. Paglapas kini sa tawhanong katungod diha sa gawasnong katilingban (News photographers would have second thoughts at taking pictures in the open because they can now be imprisoned. This is violation of their rights) “.
Ohaylan added: “Ang maayo nga balaud katong magprotekta sa mga mamahayag dili kay pugngan na usab ang mga mamahayag, usa ka kitid nga bill nga klarong pagyatak sa katungod sa pahayag (A good law should be one that protects news reporters, not that hinders them. This is a myopic law that violates the freedom of the press)”
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said House Bill 4807 “curtails the freedom of information and expression of the public especially the members of the media.”
“HB 4807 will create a chilling effect on media and would especially affect citizen journalism. It would punish with civil suit taking photos,video or even audio recording anything claimed as a personal/ family matter even of public officials and personalities,” he said.
“We maintain that the Philippine Constitution already guarantees the right to privacy. A person can claim protection even without this proposed law. Jurisprudence has settled that there are exceptions to the right to privacy which exceptions are not specified in this bill,” Alquinto said.
House Bill 4807 is authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Maximo Rodriguez, Jorge Almonte, Gwendolyn Garcia, Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Lito Atienza and Leopoldo Bataoil. It is now up for 3rd reading in the plenary. (davaotoday.com)