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Law protecting journalists, sources now covers broadcast, online media

/ 05:34 AM September 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a bill that expands the coverage of the law protecting journalists from being forced to disclose their sources and it now includes broadcast and online media.

The President signed on Aug. 30 Republic Act No. 11458, which amends RA 53, also known as the Sotto law.

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Under the new law, it’s not just print journalists who could not be compelled to disclose their sources, unless the court or Congress determines that disclosure is demanded by the security of the state.

It now covers any publisher, owner or duly recognized journalist, writer, reporter, contributor, opinion writer, editor, columnist, manager and 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.

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In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the signing of the law showed that the administration respects press freedom.

Legal, security threats

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the enactment of the measure “is proof that this government will never waver from its responsibility to protect journalists from legal and security threats.”

It was Sotto who introduced the Senate measure to expand the original law that his grandfather and namesake had authored.

In a statement on Wednesday, he thanked the President for recognizing the importance of the law.

“I have always been and will always be a strong advocate of the freedom of information and an avid guardian of the rights that our journalists justly deserve,” he said.

He added that the Philippine media would “always thrive in the freedoms that our forefathers have sought and successfully won to ensure democracy in our country.”

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Moreover, he said, the enactment of the new law was proof that the government would not shirk its responsibility to protect journalists from legal and security threats.

Technological advances

In the bill he filed in the 17th Congress, Sotto said expanding the coverage of the law was necessary because advances in technology had also expanded the coverage of mass media.

He also said the purpose of the law, which is to protect and enhance the freedom of the press, remained relevant and important.

Sen. Grace Poe, who sponsored the measure in the previous Congress, said its enactment was well past its due.

“The freedom of the press and the right of the public to know are fortified when the media is able to gather and report news unimpaired and unafraid,” Poe said.

She noted that anonymous sources have played vital roles in uncovering anomalies and corruption and making wrongdoers accountable.

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TAGS: Broadcast, journalists, Online media, Republic Act No. 11458, Sotto Law
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