SEN. Jinggoy Estrada continues to draw flak over his proposed magna carta for journalists, which calls for the creation of Philippine Council for Journalists (PCJ) to be in charge of accrediting journalists in the country.
Estrada last month filed Senate Bill 380 in an effort to help protect and promote freedom of the press as well as the safety and welfare of journalists in the country via a self-regulatory body that will accredit journalists and administer the “Professional Journalist Examination”
The National Press Club (NPC) said that it is not inclined to support any of the bill’s provisions nor allow the organization to be part of the planned PCJ.
Joel Egco, chairman of the NPC press freedom committee maintained that instead of pushing for a bill that will in effect regulate the profession, lawmakers should introduce a bill that will truly protect the welfare of media practitioners or a bill seeking harsher penalties for press freedom offenders.
The NPC official also agreed with the contention of some journalists that besides being downright unlawful, the measure will never benefit any member of the press.
“Jinggoy’s bill, if passed, will only worsen the dire situation we are now into. Kill that bill!!!” Egco added.
The National Union or Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) also expressed its opposition in the proposal saying that organization cannot subscribe to the notion of subjecting journalists to accreditation for purposes of regulating the profession.
NUJP was referring to a provision in the proposed bill authorizing the PCJ to give “Professional Journalist Examinations” as a way for them to determine who will be accredited or not.
Non-accredited journalists are those who will fail the examinations but will not be prevented from continuing their practice.
The NUJP noted that while it welcomes efforts to protect and promote freedom of the press and of expression the organization finds it disturbing that under SB 380, only accredited journalists shall be entitled to all benefits and privileges accorded them by the law, their employers and the PCJ.
“We do thank Sen. Estrada for his continued concern for ensuring an independent Philippine media but we respectfully urge him to withdraw his bill, and to instead support the clamor for the enactment of other much-needed measures such as the much-delayed Freedom of Information Act,” the NUJP said in a statement.