Philippines: Expanded law broadens scope for protection of journalist sources

Online and broadcast journalists in the Philippines will have greater ability to protect their sources following an expansion of the country’s existing shield laws. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) welcome the enactment of the Republic Act 11458 and call for broad and meaningful commitment to its principles to ensure that all journalists in the Philippines will have full and open access to the law and its protections in future.

Facade of the Senate of the Philippines Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Republic Act 11458, an amendment to previous RA No. 53 or Sotto law, will allow media workers from television, radio, online and wire service news organizations in broadcast and online media to refuse to reveal confidential sources. The only exception is if a court or committee of the Senate or House of Representatives deems that the information of the confidential source is necessary for national security.

Under the amendment, ‘...Any publisher, owner, or duly recognized or accredited journalist, columnist, manager, media practitioner involved in the writing, editing, production and dissemination of news for mass circulation of any print, broadcast, wire service organization, or electronic mass media, including cable TV and its variants” can only reveal the source of his/her information if “the court or the House of Representatives or the Senate or any committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State.’

While the amendment was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 30, a copy of the measure was only made public by Malacañang on Wednesday, September 25. Prior to the amendment, the 73-year-old Sotto law only covered publishers, editors, columnists, or reporters of print media, like newspapers and magazines. The counterpart measure expanding the Sotto law, Senate Bill No. 1255, was authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and then-senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Sotto's late grandfather, former senator Vicente Sotto, had authored the original law in 1946.

The NUJP said it welcomed “the enactment of Republic Act 11458 expanding the Sotto Law or Shield Law to cover broadcast and online media aside from print media.”

The IFJ endorsed NUJP’s statement, reiterating that “greater protections are needed to safeguard journalists, given it is one of the most deadly places in the world for media”.

The IFJ said: “We supports the expansion of the Sotto law and the increased protection for journalists and their sources. The principle in journalism of ensuring the anonymity and protection of sources is vital for upholding journalistic integrity, democracy and media independence.”

 

 

 

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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