FILIPINO JOURNALISTS would not have to worry about the Right of Reply bill pending in Congress if they practice fair and balanced reporting in the first place, says President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The President made the remark in the sidelines of a conference by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas in Tagaytay City, according to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The President’s remark comes amid growing outrage in the media community over Malacanang’s failure to push the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill through Congress, even as the Palace sends mixed signals on the Right of Reply bill.

The Inquirer report indicated that the Palace position on the Right of Reply (ROR) bill is that journalists would not have to worry if they make certain that their stories are fair and balanced to begin with.

“The same spirit hews closely to our position on the issue of right of reply. As (the Bible) says, the truth will set you free. If two sides of a story are reported, if the details of every news are accurate and the freedom of all Filipinos to form their own opinion is valued, then any journalist has nothing to worry about, isn’t it,” the President was quoted by the Inquirer as saying.

The Inquirer story may be read here.

The President’s statement comes just a week after a Palace Communications Office official said that Malacanang was supportive of the Right of Reply bill provided it does not encroach into the freedoms of expression and the press.

Media organizations have opposed the ROR bill filed by Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, claiming it violates freedom of the press and encroaches on editorial independence. The ROR bill provides that officials who feel slighted in media stories may demand free equal airtime and print space of the same prominence from media organizations.

Interestingly, media organizations have also accused Antonino of filibustering during the last House Committee on Public Information hearing, resulting in the failure of the committee to act on the long pending Freedom of Information bill.


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