MANILA – The House of Representatives recently ratified a bicameral conference committee report on a measure expanding the coverage of law to protect sources of journalists.
The committee report harmonized the provisions of House Bill 684 and Senate Bill 1255, both seeking to amend Republic Act 1477 or “An Act Amending Section One Of Republic Act Numbered Fifty-Three, Entitled An Act To Exempt The Publisher, Editor, Columnist Or Reporter Of Any Publication From Revealing The Source Of Published News Or Information Obtained In Confidence.”
Under the measure, any publisher, owner or duly recognized or accredited journalist, writer, reporter, editor, columnist and media practitioner involved in writing, editing, production and dissemination of news for mass circulation, whether in print, broadcast or electronic mass media, cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news item, report or information.
The source will only be required should the House, the Senate or any of the Congress committee finds that the revelation of the source is demanded by the security of the State.
The House version of the measure was principally authored by Rep. Raul del Mar while the Senate’s version was authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and outgoing Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Del Mar said an amendment to the existing law was needed as it does not mention anything about journalists from broadcast stations, news or wire agencies and internet newspapers, magazines and other publications.
“It is an omission that must be filled, an anomaly that must be corrected. The journalists envisioned by the Sotto law cannot be confined to print practitioners,” he said.
“When Republic Act 53 was enacted, electronic journalism was almost non-existent, while the internet was not even a dream,” added del Mar./PN