By JUNAVIC OBISPO and LORIDALE SALARIOSA
BAGUIO CITY — Baguio-based members of the media spearheaded by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) wore black shirts last April 21, 2009 to dramatize their protest against the Right of Reply Bill.
Desiree Caluza, secretary general of NUJP-Baguio said they chose black to signify their mourning for members of the press who were killed in the line of duty and sustain the nationally coordinated protest against the Right of Reply Bill.
The Right of Reply violates Article III Sec. 4 of the 1987 Constitution stating that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
Caluza said, “Nagulat kami last year kung bakit nakapasa sa Senate yung bill na walang ingay, so para hindi na maipasa yung bill na pending sa congress kailangan naming isustain yung effort laban sa bill na ito.”
(We were caught unaware by the Senate passing the bill last year, so we have t sustain efforts against the passing of the bill at the House of Representatives.)
Arthur Allad-iw, vice chairperson of NUJP-Baguio said NUJP sustains the campaign against the bill because it is patently against the freedom of expression.
According to Allad-iw House Bill 3306 is still on its second reading in the House of Representatives and NUJP and other media groups are lobbying against its passing..
“There is a Journalists Code of Ethics, a sworn duty in the conduct of the journalist work. If there is a need for the Right of Reply bill why is it effective only for seven years?” said Allad-iw.
“Kung titingnan natin masasakop niya ang 2010 election. Kaya makikinabang na naman ang mga pulitiko” (If we look at it, it will cover the 2010 elections so only politicians can benefit from it), Allad-iw added.
“Politicians subjected to criticisms will have an equal space and equal time in any form of media. Journalists might be pre-empted to write and this violates the freedom of the press,” Allad-iw further explained.
Caluza also said the bill would probably serve as platform for politicians being criticized by the media because of issues involving them.
“Sila lang maririnig at yung hinahanap nating quality news eh mawawala dahil panay replies na ang laman ng any form of media,” (Only their voice would be heard and the quality news that we often go after would be replaced by replies) Caluza said.
Around 700 media persons have signed the online petition against the Bill. Allad-iw further encouraged other media member to support the online petition. # nordis.net