2 lawmakers seek to regulate journalism with ‘magna carta’


Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s controversial bill seeking to regulate journalism in the country has received support at the House of Representatives.

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is poised to file his own version of Estrada’s proposed measure, which would likewise be called “Magna Carta for Journalists.”

Rodriguez introduced the same bill during the 15th Congress, but it gained no traction.

Like Estrada’s proposal, the Rodriguez bill will require an examination for journalists before they could be “accredited” by a proposed Philippine Center for Journalists (PCJ).

“Accredited journalists shall be entitled to all benefits and privileges to be accorded to them by law, by their employers and by the PCJ,” according to the bill.

The bill describes nonaccredited journalists as those who “have not taken or failed to pass the Professional Journalism Examination by the PCJ.”

Like the Estrada bill, Rodriguez’s proposal will not keep nonaccredited journalists, or those without the PCJ “identification card,” from “exercising their duties and rights as journalists.”

To be exempted from the exam are journalists with at least 10 years of experience.

In its declaration of policy, the bill spelled out the objective of ensuring that journalists “shall be provided with benefits packaged at par with the current benefits enjoyed by those in the labor force.”

Another goal mentioned was to “motivate and encourage journalists to perform their duties as truthful and responsible informers of the people.”

The bill designates the PCJ to “promulgate” a code of ethics, the violation of which could mean the “suspension or permanent withdrawal” of a journalist’s accreditation.

“It is necessary for the enactment of a law that will ensure a living wage, an atmosphere conducive to productive journalism work, reiterate value of ethics, provide for development programs that will deepen the practice of their profession, and promote the defense and protection of freedom and human rights of journalists and their organizations,” Rodriguez said in the explanatory note.

Journalists have lambasted the attempts of lawmakers to regulate the press, arguing that a license should not be necessary for anyone to exercise freedom of speech.

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