QUEZON CITY: Journalists from the broadcast industry, wire agencies and Internet publications may soon be included as among the media practitioners covered by the law that allows them to protect their source of information in news reports.
Rep. Raul del Mar (1st District, Cebu City) authored House Bill 362 amending Republic Act 53, which covers only the publisher, editor, columnist or duly accredited reporter of newspapers, magazines or periodical of general circulation.
“The law is silent about journalists from broadcast stations, news or wire agencies, and internet newspapers, magazines and other publications. When the law was passed, electronic journalism was virtually non-existent,” Del Mar said.
Republic Act 53, otherwise known as the Sotto Law, has been the journalist’s privilege statute by which he can refuse to reveal the source of a confidential news report or information except when the court or a Committee of Congress finds that the revelation is demanded by the security of the state.
In the past, Del Mar said broadcast stations mostly played music or drama and news reading only. “The news or wire agencies still had to be developed and recognized, and the Internet was not even a dream,” Del Mar said.
Under the measure, an accredited journalist of any legitimate print, broadcast, internet, or wire service organization, station or network, including the publisher, station owner and manager, bureau chief, editor, news editor, writer or reporter, correspondent, opinion columnist or commentator, cartoonist, photographer, or other practitioner involved in the gathering, writing, editing of, or commenting on the news for mass circulation or broadcast cannot be compelled to reveal the source or any news item, news report or information appearing or being reported, disseminated or commented on, which was relayed in confidence to such journalist unless the court or the House of Representatives or the Senate or any of its committees finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State.
Accredited journalist and practitioner of any legitimate print, broadcast, Internet, or wire service organization, station or network, is one who is accredited with any reputable association of media persons such as, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and its attached Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and Philippines News Agency (PNA), the National Press Club (NPC), the National Union of Journalists of the Phil (NUJP), and the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and/or one who is a regular employee of a legitimate print, broadcast, internet, or wire service organization, station or network, provided, that any journalist engaged by any legitimate media company shall be deemed to be an accredited journalist.