4 senators back Senate reporters over decorum row
MANILA, Philippines – At least four senators stood up on the floor Wednesday to express their support for the Senate media’s concern raised over a “revocation of accreditation ” threat by the chamber’s Public Relations and Information Bureau (PRIB).
It was Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who first stood up in the plenary to call the attention of the Senate on the advisory sent to reporters by the PRIB Tuesday, reminding that “media interviews are not allowed on the floor when a plenary session is in progress.”
Sotto particularly pointed to the words used in the advisory, which said that “similar violation will cause the automatic revocation of reporters’ or their media outfits’ accreditation in the Senate roster.”
“The use of such phrase does not leave a good mark,” he said.
Sotto then suggested a dialogue among the PRIB, Senate Secretariat, and representatives from the Senate media.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also took the floor and promised to take the media’s concern “very seriously.”
“So we will work with the Senate Secretary to answer their concerns,” Cayetano said.
Senator Grace Poe joined her colleagues, saying that the media should be given access to information and should be allowed to interact with members of the Senate.
“I know that there should be proper decorum but I advocate an open system (to allow) the media to perform their task of delivering timely news to the public,” Poe said.
“An open system has been the practice since the Philippine Senate reopened in 1988, which is a fitting homage to the basic civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution,” she said, in a separate letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon, a copy of which was also furnished to reporters.
The lapse of some media members when they interviewed Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. while the Senate was in session last Monday (September 16), Poe said, should not be used as a “blanket authority to cause a chilling effect to the media.”
Senator Loren Legarda also stood up to “concur” with the observation of her colleagues.