International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the National
Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in promoting a signature campaign to oppose a
proposed Right of Reply Bill in the Philippines.
The NUJP, an IFJ affiliate, is concerned that the
proposed Bill will allow for the violation of media independence and freedom of
expression in the Philippines.
includes articles which would legislate what the media must publish in cases where
individuals or organisations seek redress for media reports with which they
disagree. The NUJP fears that the
Bill will encourage the media and journalists to self-censor, particularly with
regard to media investigations into allegations of corruption and organised
The IFJ fully supports the NUJP in its view that legitimate grievances with
media reporting must be dealt with through open mediation and self-regulating
mechanisms, and not by enforcement of a law that risks imposing restrictions on
media reporting in the public interest.
“The IFJ calls on the ruling
authorities and civil society in the Philippines to affirm respect for
the principle that all disputes on media coverage and content are best resolved
in a democratic society through a process of dialogue and constructive
mediation,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
The IFJ encourages its affiliates
and other press freedom organisations to support the independence of the media
in the Philippines
by signing onto the NUJP campaign.
So far, 426 individuals have signed
the petition. Media organisations which have signed include the NUJP, the IFJ, Business World, the Center for Media
Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Cebu
Citizens-Press Council, GMA News and Public Affairs, ABS CBN News and Public
Affairs, Kodao Productions, Publishers Association of General Santos City,
South Cotabato and Sarangani (PAGES), Malacañang Press Corps, the Philippine
Press Club of Ontario (PPCO) Canada and the Foundation for Media Alternatives
Below is the NUJP’s
“Unified Statement on the Right of Reply Bill”. Please send your endorsement of
this statement – as an individual or organisation – to the NUJP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Right of Reply Bill is an
ill-conceived piece of legislation that violates two of the most cherished
freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, those of the press and of
2. It is both unfortunate and ironic that the principal authors of the bill in
the two chambers of Congress ought to have known better, Senator Aquilino
Pimentel Jr. having earned his reputation as a champion of civil rights and
Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella having been president of the Negros
3. It is also clear, from the pronouncements of both lawmakers, that this bill
is a product of the sorriest excuse for legislation – personal pique.
4. The House version of the bill, HB 3306, parrots the Senate's SB2150 except
it would have the reply run a day after receipt instead of the three days the Senate grants, and seeks to impose heftier
fines and the absence of self-regulation (in the case of block-timers) and
5. Both bills state that "all persons…who are accused directly or
indirectly of committing, having committed or intending to commit any crime or
offense defined by law, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for
any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply
to charges or criticisms published or printed in newspapers, magazines,
newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or
broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic
6. They also would mandate that these replies be "published or broadcast
in the same space of the newspapers, magazine, newsletter or publication, or
aired over the same program on radio, television, website or through any
7. The danger in the right of reply bill is that it would legislate what the
media OUGHT to publish or air, while casting a chilling effect that could
dissuade the more timorous from publishing or airing what they SHOULD.
8. The bills would free public officials, especially the corrupt – and they are
legion – of accountability and give them carte blanche to force their lies on
the suffering public.
9. As one article on the right of reply bill says, “It lumps together imputations
of a crime with simple criticism ‘of any lapse in behavior in public or private
life’ or what would otherwise be considered ‘fair comment.’ There is no
judicial review. It does not differentiate direct and indirect criticism. It
has been noted that under the proposed law a journalist does not even have to
be in error to draw a right of reply claim."
10. We would be the last to say that the Philippine media are without fault.
Yes, we understand perfectly the frustration and anger of Pimentel and Puentevella
over some media outlet's refusal to air their sides on issues.
11. Alas, but we cannot allow the sins of the few to be an excuse for the
wholesale muzzling of a free press and the suppression of free expression. To
do so would allow bad governance to triumph.
12. We call on Senator Pimentel and Representative Puentevella to withdraw
13. We urge the media and the people to close ranks against the passage of this
bill, to challenge it before the Supreme Court if it is passed, and, if even
that fails, to defy it by refusing to comply.
14. No less than our freedoms are at stake. This is a battle we cannot afford
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide