Lawyers’ group tells House: Focus on corruption probe not on bullying reporter
A GROUP of lawyers scored a lawmaker for bullying a journalist to reveal her sources in a story, which claims that an alleged Chinese crime lord gave millions to lawmakers who will vote for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives.
In its statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said that the threat of Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga to cite The Standard reporter Christine Herrera for contempt if she refuses to reveal her sources is “a crazy attempt to deflect attention from a story about corruption in the highest levels of government: in Congress and in Malacanang.”
“Rep. Barzaga’s supposed antics in the latest House hearing, however, is turning the story into a slugfest between a congressman gone ballistic – some say defensive – and a journalist who rightfully refuses to reveal her story,” NUPL Secretary General Edre Olalia said.
Olalia said that the House probe on the alleged P440 million bribe given by Wang Bo to lawmakers should not turn into an investigation against Herrera. Instead, the lawyer urged Congress to use its powers to investigate members allegedly involved in the bribery scandal.
“We call on Congress to instead use its powers to investigate the alleged actions of its members, instead of using it to force Ms. Herrera to reveal her sources… Congress, as an institution, has the power to subpoena documents and summon witnesses. It can, on its own, prove or disprove the allegations of bribery that Ms. Herrera wrote about,” he added.
The lawyer said that Barzaga, a former law professor, should know that journalists are protected by the Sotto law.
“The law on confidentiality of sources of journalists is clear. It is law that has been there for the longest time, a law that came from the same place where former law professor Atty. Barzaga is now,” Olalia said.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Herrera said that her stories were verified using “credible sources and solid evidence.” AC
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