TAGAYTAY CITY—President Benigno Aquino on Thursday said journalists should not fear the right of reply bill if they practice balanced reporting.
Speaking before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the President made a passing mention of the bill, which grants individuals and companies the right to reply to charges or criticisms in newspapers, radio, TV or websites.
Mr. Aquino said Juan de la Cruz, the Filipino everyman, would not only benefit but would be encouraged by truthful reporting in taking part in nation-building.
“The same spirit hews closely to our position on the issue of right of reply. As [the Bible] says, the truth will set you free. If two sides of a story are reported, if the details of every news are accurate and the freedom of all Filipinos to form their own opinion is valued, then any journalist has nothing to worry about, isn’t it?” he told TV and radio broadcasters at the Taal Vista Hotel.
The right of reply bill is pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Lawmakers were also proposing to include a right of reply provision in the freedom of information (FOI) bill pending in the House of Representatives.
Deliberations on the FOI bill by the House committee on public information have been clogged by technicalities. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the committee chairman, on Tuesday adjourned the hearing before the consolidated version could be put to a vote, fearing this would overlap with the plenary session.
Advocates had been hoping this could be put to a vote at the committee so it could be forwarded to the plenary for debate and approved on final reading.
The bill seeks to lift the secrecy surrounding the government transactions and documents and allow for more transparency. The measure is aimed at rooting out corruption and promoting good governance.
Malacañang on Wednesday denied the President was leading the charge to kill the FOI bill, but made no commitment to rally its allies to approve the measure.
Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said Malacañang was not delaying its passage, but was deferring to the House lawmakers to deliberate on it.