This is something we, bloggers, should be concerned about.So be wary it can really affect over 5 million bloggers nationwide.


What is Right to Reply Bill or House Bill 3306?

House Bill 3306,also known as The Right to Reply Bill is a bill that suppresses freedom of expression.A bill that would not only hold back freedom but could lead to internet censorship.Looking back on my previous post I've told you that I've found this issue on the newspaper and I reassured myself to copy the content here.Luckily there's no need for me to type and all since the Inquirer publication have their own website.So, here it goes . .

MANILA, Philippines--The controversial right of reply bill will not only affect print and broadcast media, but could lead to Internet censorship since it also covers bloggers, “texters” and even iPod users, a party-list lawmaker warned Saturday.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Mong Palatino said the bill’s sponsor in the House, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, admitted during interpellation that House Bill No. 3306 also covers websites, e-mails, Internet social networking sites and other electronic devices in its scope.
Palatino noted that Section 1 of HB 3306 states, “All persons, natural or judicial, who are accused directly or indirectly of committing, having committed, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to charges or criticisms published in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites or through any electronic device.”
“The bill, therefore, would not only affect media outfits and journalists but also all website owners, website masters, e-mail account holders and other netizens who are not necessarily media practitioners,” said Palatino who has been a blogger since 2004.
He said the bill would affect “the more than five million bloggers and millions more of Internet users in the country.”
“My fear is that when this bill comes to law, it will be used to regulate the content of the Internet, when we are checking our e-mails, when we open our Friendster or Facebook accounts, when we are checking our websites. Does this mean that we will be compelled to moderate, modify or edit our personal websites? Is this not Internet censorship and suppression of freedom of speech and expression?” Palatino said.
“Does this mean that whenever a criticism is published in these venues a person can use the Right of Reply to compel a blogger or moderator of a social networking site to publish a space or a reply for that person? Or when an individual decides to copy or repost an article from a news website in his or her personal blog, and in the future the said article becomes a subject of this Right of Reply, will he or she be sanctioned or fined also?” he said.
In reply, Abante said the bill would be defined more clearly through its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“Primarily, this bill refers to media publications and practitioners. I would think it will be defined more on the IRR,” he said.
But Palatino said that Congress should just remove the line “any electronic device” in the bill’s first section. The bill is still up for amendments in the House.
“Again, this would affect more than 60 million mobile phone users and iPod owners in the country,” Palatino said.
Palatino said he would oppose the right of reply bill on the grounds that it violates the freedom of the press and the public’s freedom of speech and expression. He also said he was not amenable even to a “watered down” version of the bill because it merely “renders the Right of Reply pointless.”
He also encouraged bloggers, netizens, texters and concerned youth to register their opposition to the “apparent railroading of the bill in Congress.”
Now what do you think?

Before saying something I think you should better download the PDF version from the senate website for further information.What it can cause and all.Examine it,Understand it and all.

Somehow, I know this has something to do with the Katrina Halili and Dr.Kho Sex Video Issue.Slim Chance I guess, if not a hair strand of probability.But it just got totally out of bounds.They're barking on the wrong tree! It's lunatic! It's pointless! It must be rejected.If they really wanted to strengthen the foundation of cyberlaws then I suggest them to throw themselves into imbibing as many Eureka concepts and ideas as possible.A notion that will never limit the freedom of speech and expression.For those who say that this isn't a limitation on the freedom of speech and expression should take a second look at the bill.It actually compels the editor-in-chief, the publisher or blogger, or owner of the website to air the reply.When has a person criticized been prevented from replying to accusations anyway?



Why reject the Right of Reply Bill?

1. The Bill is unconstitutional. It violates Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, “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,” as well as several principles of criminal law.

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general Neri Colmenares cited the overly broad and vague provision in the bill mandating the right of reply of all persons “who are criticized by innuendo, suggestion, or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life” in saying that the elements of a supposed crime are “not clear.” “Who decides what is ‘innuendo, suggestion, rumor or lapse in behavior’?” Colmenares said.

Moreover, once the bill is signed into law, Filipinos will also, directly or indirectly, be denied of their right to information which is the building block of any sound judgment that will lead to actions meant to preserve the rights and welfare of the citizenry.

2. The Bill is repressive. Should the bill pass into law, many journalists and/or media outfits will be hindered from performing their prime tasks as watchdogs of society out of fear of paying sums of pesos as punishment for not printing the reply of a “ridiculed or maligned” person.

The Guild believes the bill, which requires or mandates media outfits to publish or air replies in the same space, be it front page or inside story, encroaches on the right of the editorial board to determine the content of publications according to the relevance of issues.

With this bill, the prerogative of the press to determine what to publish or broadcast is undermined for it compels the media to print or air the reply of the “aggrieved” person who does not even have the burden to prove that he has been affected by a report.

Prof. Danilo Arao of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications states, “As it is, the bill has negative repercussions on the workings of the press. Editors, normally referred to as the gatekeepers of information, should be allowed to choose which stories get published, aired or uploaded and which stories are given due prominence based on the time-tested elements of news. Instead of coming up with bills that seek to legislate how the media should function, it would do well for legislators to help strengthen self-regulation in media by creating an environment conducive for the effective practice of the media profession.”

Consequently, Section 3 of the Right of Reply Bill is sure to undermine especially the campus press. Due to lack of resources and its common operations, it is impossible for majority of campus publications to comply “not later than one day” as prescribed by HB 3306 or “not later than three days” according to SB 2150. Never has there been a daily student publication in the entire history of campus press.

Also, advocacy press, which includes student gazettes, would certainly fall victim to this bill due to the nature of their writings. It does not appease at all that the status quo of politics and press freedom in the country has been known to favor politicians and other prominent individuals in legal venues. Suffice to say, under such conditions that press people are working in, the Right of Reply Bill is not democratic at all, it is ultra democracy at the expense of press freedom and freedom of expression.

3. The Bill is pointless. There is no need for the Right of Reply Bill at all. The “aggrieved” person/s that the bill claims to protect has long been valued by the media in its practice of always getting two sides of the story.

While the Guild relents that media’s record is not entirely spotless, it echoes the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) sentiment that “we cannot allow the sins of the few to be an excuse for the wholesale muzzling of a free press and the suppression of free expression. To do so would to allow bad governance to triumph.”

There are, also, inevitable reasons why sometimes only one side is aired or published: the person either refuses interview and/or the person is out-of-reach.

Moreover, as a practice, the media accommodates not just replies but even criticisms and statements through spaces such as the letter to the editor and opinion sections.

Furthermore, if the claim that this bill seeks to mitigate journalist killings in the country is to be believed, there is no reason, still, to discuss the bill at all. In resolving the culture of impunity, what the Philippine press needs is political will, not a mere bill.

What can we do?

1. Publish opposition to the Right of Reply Bill in campus papers, blogs and websites, emails and forum threads, or you may re-post this material. Write letters to the editors and opinion columns.

2. Organize fora and/or small group discussions in campus publication offices and other venues on the Right of Reply Bill. This primer may be reproduced or reprinted.

3. Email or send a letter rejecting the bill to offices of congressmen and senators, especially the bill’s sponsors.

4. Sign the petition against the Right of Reply Bill. (will update link soon).

5. Join protest actions against the Right of Reply Bill.

filed under: ,
Copyright © 2005 Sports Avenue Online