DOJ backs passage of right of reply law
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice supports the passage of a law that would guarantee the citizens’ right of reply to news reports as such legislation would enforce a privilege that is granted by the Constitution, Justice Secretary Leila Secretary said in a position paper sent the House of Representatives.
De Lima pointed out in the position paper she sent this week to Representative Jorge Almonte, chair of the House committee on Public Information, that she had also expressed the same support for Senate Bill 76 in a letter to Senator Gregorio Honasan on November 5, 2012.
She said the Senate bill, proposed by then Senator Manny Villar, was “substantially similar” to three right-of-reply bills pending in the House of Representatives.
“This department does not interpose any objection to the said bills and reiterates its position in supporting Senate Bill No. 76,” De Lima said in her letter to Almonte .
She said the right of reply was already guaranteed by the Constitution as “correlative” to freedom of expression, speech and the press. But passing a law to protect this right would ensure that it is enforced and respected, she added.
“While the Constitution already guarantees the right to reply, legislating the same through the proposed bill can only further add teeth or reinforce such right for a more meaningful exercise thereof,” De Lima said in a text message when queried by the Inquirer about her position on Friday.
Moves to legislate the right of reply, whether as a separate bill or as part of the still pending freedom of information bill, is facing opposition from the mass media on grounds it would “subsume the editorial prerogative of media entities to decide which stories to print, air, or upload,” said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in a statement earlier this month.
Getting the side of a news subject has long been a practice in journalism. The right of reply legislation seeks to impose penalties for a media outfit’s failure to provide equal space or air-time to the subject of a news report or commentary.
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