In Photo: Senator Grace Poe explains about the advantages of exempting journalists to reveal their confidential sources. | Photo taken by Iona Finlay Mendoza

By Raye Danielle Peralta and Iona Finlay Mendoza

THE SENATE Committee on Public Information and Mass Media yesterday passed the proposals to amend Republic Act (R.A.) 53 to include the exemption of broadcast and online journalists from revealing their sources.

R.A. 53, also known as Sotto Law or Shield Law, was proposed with measures that aimed to spare publishers, editors, and reporters from revealing their source of information obtained in confidence.

“It is high time that we make all these relevant changed now. These bills acknowledge that journalism has now taken on a multimedia character, thus, these seek to protect broadcast, radio, and online journalists from divulging their sources, except for certain instances,” said Senator Grace Poe upon the commencement of the public hearing.

Resource persons from the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Department of Justice, Office of Solicitor General, National Press Club, National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, and Philippine Press Institute presented commentaries and proposals regarding the proposed amendments to the Sotto Law.

Alfonso Pedroche, Philippine Press Institute president and editor in chief of Pilipino Star Ngayon, did not object the provisions stating that the measures would grant to the protection of the practice of journalism and its technological advances.

Poe also disclosed that the House of Representatives had already approved similar proposals to the Sotto Law.

“Our counterparts in the House of Representative have already appealed the proposal to amend R.A. 53 to include in exemption, journalists in broadcast, online and wire agencies,” said Poe.

The 70-year-old law was known as Senate Bill No.6 that originally proposed in 1946 by the late Senator Vicente Sotto only for print journalism.

“It’s about time, journalism is no longer confined to writing or to print. As the chair has excellently mentioned the importance of broadcast, radio, TV,” expressed Sotto.

Poe hoped that the amendatory bill will be sponsored by next week.

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