A Cebu lawmaker has re-filed a bill seeking to amend Republic Act 53 or the Press Freedom Law of 1946 to widen its coverage to include journalists from broadcast, news agencies, and internet publications.
Currently, RA 53 exempts only the publisher, editor, or duly accredited reporter of print media from revealing the source of news report or information.
Rep. Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City) said explained that when the law was passed, “electronic journalism was virtually non-existent, the news or wire agencies still had to be developed and recognized, and the internet was not even a dream.”
Under the proposed bill, a duly accredited journalist of any legitimate print, broadcast, internet, or wire service organization, station, or network cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news item, news report, or information, appearing or being reported.
Del Mar said the identity 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.
“The proposed amendment will not only strengthen confidence in other journalists but will also recognize the important role that they play in the building of community and nation,” del Mar added.
The bill said journalists engaged by legitimate media companies shall be deemed accredited journalists.
They include the bureau chief, editor, news editor, writer, reporter, correspondent, opinion columnist or commentator, cartoonist, photographer, or other practitioner involved in the gathering, writing, editing of or commenting on the news for mass circulation.
An accredited journalist or media practitioner shall be recognized by any reputable media association such as but not limited to the Philippine Information Agency – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PIA-PCOO), the National Press Club (NPC), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). (HREP-MAPRS)