Draft rules of House ‘may restrict’ media coverage, solon says
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone on Monday said a draft guideline that “might restrict” media coverage of the House of Representatives would be tackled by the chamber’s committee on public information.
But Evardone, a former media practitioner himself and the chair of the said panel, has admitted that he has “reservations” on some of the new ground rules.
“Actually, iko-consult ko sa inyo kasi I, for one, have some reservations, questions on the draft guidelines kasi ako naiintindihan ko, hindi mo pwedeng — kasi naghahanap tayo ng balita, gagawa tayo ng paraan makakuha ng balita,” he said in a press briefing.
(Actually, I want to consult with you because I, for one, have some reservations and questions on the draft guidelines because I understand that you can’t — because we look for news, we will make a way to get the news.)
“In a way, it might restrict your access to securing vital information,” he added.
The congressman nonetheless assured that he would ask for reporters’ input and comment first before approving the said guidelines, a copy of which has yet to be provided to the media.
“Don’t worry; as far as I’m concerned, hindi natin ilalabas ‘yon hanggat hindi agree ang lahat (we won’t release it until it’s agreed by everyone),” he said.
Evardone said Antipolo City 1st District Rep. Cristina “Chiqui” Roa-Puno filed a resolution weeks earlier seeking for the adoption of these rules so the conduct of media coverage would be “organized.”
In filing House Resolution 2149 on Sept. 4, Roa-Puno said “the adoption of the rules for media coverage was ‘imperative to guarantee freedom of the press and of information while ensuring public order and safety.’”
Roa-Puno also “discussed” the guidelines with Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said.
The rules include, among others, prohibiting reporters and cameramen from interviewing lawmakers in front of the session hall and along the lobby, and requiring foreign media to secure an endorsement first from their embassy before being allowed to cover the lower House, Evardone said.
He added that he did not know who crafted the guidelines.
In April this year, the House Press and Public Affairs Bureau released stricter rules for media coverage, a part of which states that journalists who “besmirch the reputation of the House of Representatives, its officials or members” may lose their accreditation to cover the chamber.
In a text message to reporters, Roa-Puno said they revised the guidelines released during then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s time in April.
“The current version went through consultations even with media members and please be assured it does not in any way curtail press freedom. As a media practitioner, I made sure of it,” she said. /je
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.