For e-journos, broadcast:  House okays bill expanding Sotto Law

Jun. 01, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Lawmakers in the House of Representatives gave their nod on House Bill 684 which seeks the inclusion of legitimate broadcast and online journalists in the coverage of Shield Law.

If passed into law, HB 684  would amend Republic Act 53 or The Sotto Law, exempting online, and wire agencies from revealing sources of information obtained in confidence.

The House on Monday, May 29 approved on third and final reading HB 684 which was co-authored by Cebu City 1st District Representative Raul del Mar and Aangat Tayo Representative Harlin Neil Abayon III, and ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio.

At present, only editor, publisher, columnist or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation could decline to reveal the sources of information, unless the court, or a House committee of Congress finds that the revelation is demanded by the security of the state.

“The reason for the rule is that the identify of sources of a confidential news report or information must be protected, otherwise the spring of data for new or commentary dries up and the mission of the press to check and balance and expose wrongdoing is impeded,” Del Mar said in his explanatory note of the bill.

Del Mar said the current Sotto Law is silent about online and broadcast journalists, pointing out that electronic journalism was virtually non-existent when RA 53 was enacted.

“The proposed amendment will not only strengthen confidence in these other journalists but will also recognize the important role that they, together with print practitioners, play in the building of community and nation,” he said.

A version of the measure was approved by the Senate on May 15 and sooner or later will be transmitted to the bicameral conference committee​.  If approved in the bicameral conference committee, the measure for the President’s final approval. (
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