Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A triumph for press freedom

Amidst constant attacks against Philippine press freedom, little gains should not come unnoticed.
At the Philippine Senate there has been a victory of sorts for press freedom.
Under deliberations is the Senate bill on anti-terrorism, called the "anti-terror bill".
This is part of this so-called world wide war on terror waged and led by that cowboy in the West.
Senator Aquilino Nene Pimentel Jr., has successfully convinced the prinicpal author, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, to remove a provision that would have forced journalists to reveal the sources of their news stories involving terrorism.
This is an affront to the constitutionally guaranteed press freedom, Senator Pimentel said.
The Senate has approved an amendment in the proposedAnti-Terrorism Act that will exempt journalists,lawyers and doctors from being compelled to reveal tolaw enforcement authorities their communications withtheir sources of information, as well as with theirclients and patients.
This is one of the 89 amendments to the controversialmeasure (Senate Bill 2137) proposed by Minority LeaderAquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban).
About 95 percent of these amendments were accepted by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, sponsor of the administration-initiated bill.
Explaining why media practitioners should not berequired to reveal their sources of information, Pimentel invoked section 4 of Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution which provides: “No lawshall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, ofexpression, or of the press, or the right of thepeople to peaceably assemble and petition thegovernment for redress of grievances.
He said the amendment means that information furnishedto journalists about the whereabouts of terrorists inconnection with stories they have written could not bea subject to compulsory disclosure.“
In fact, there is more reason to exempt thecorrespondences, messages and records of journalistsfrom being monitored, bugged and recorded orsubpoenaed for use under legal compunction ininvestigation or terrorist trials that thecommunications between doctors and patients,” Pimentelsaid.
The minority leader also cited the concern of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press that “if any journalist strongly and legitimatelysuspects that his or her communications with a source are being intercepted by a third party, that journalist simply cannot promise confidentiality in good faith to an international source when that sourcecould face torture or death if the communications isrevealed…”

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