IDs don’t define a journalist

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A television journalist turned lawmaker has filed a Magna Carta for Journalists bill which scraps the accreditation clause provided under the earlier proposal of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

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Rep. Sol Aragones of Laguna province made the proposal under her House Bill 2568 which does not distinguish ‘accredited’ from ‘non-accredited journalists’ based on a ‘Professional Journalist Examination—a clause stated in the Estrada bill.

“In the many years that I have been a part of the media sector, I have learned that being a journalist is based on experience, dedication to the craft and most of all, credibility. It is not based on an identification card,” Aragones, a party-mate of Estrada under the United Nationalist Alliance.

Instead, Aragones’ proposal enables journalists to be truthful in their reporting by requiring government agencies to grant the media’s request for information in a matter of five working days. In cases of refusal, the government agencies should have a pertinent reason for the non-disclosure of information.

“The assumption here is that the information and other documents under government safekeeping can be opened to the public. If we want journalism to prosper, the government should push for FOI,” Aragones explained, referring to the Freedom of Information bill.

Likewise, Aragones’ bill provides for a Journalist Welfare Fund which would provide assistance for journalists and their families based on certain conditions.

The financial assistance from the Journalist Welfare Fund will range from P10,000 to P200,000 in cases of complete disability, death in line of duty and those in dire need of assistance as a result of their profession.

“More than the benefits, we should ensure that our journalists are safe in practicing their profession as they take on their responsibility to be of service to the citizenry,” Aragones, who used to be a television reporter for ABS-CBN, added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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