The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) stands firm that the Right of Reply Bill is anathema to democracy, to freedom of expression and of the press, and should never be passed.
Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella entirely misses the point with his proposal to amend certain provisions of the bill amid growing opposition to his bill from media organizations.
There can never be a “responsive yet more lenient version” of the Right of Reply Bill as Puentevella would want people to believe. The bill will always be abusive and restrictive. Removing imprisonment as a penalty does not make the bill right. It only makes it deceptive.
The media have always recognized the right of reply as a legitimate right of citizens Media organizations as a rule acknowledge this and maintain a set of rules to ensure this right is acknowledged during the editorial process.
But enacting a law on the right of reply distorts this right to favor politicians who are oversensitive to criticism. It is this attempt to caricature a political right to favor those in power that we in media are critical of.
Watering it down will not do. Passing it so someone can claim credit as a defender of press freedoms for shooting it down later will not do. The only right thing to do is withdraw this onerous bill and solemnly pledge to the people that never again shall government — both
executive and legislature — attempt to prevent the free flow of information, without which democracy cannot exist, by muzzling the independent press.
And, while you are it it, bring an end to the abominable murders of journalists and bring all the killers and masterminds to justice.
Only then can government begin to claim credit for defending freedom of the press and of expression.