MANILA -- The House of Representatives ratified the conference committee report of bills expanding the coverage of the so-called Sotto Law, which allows journalists to protect the identities of their sources.
The committee report harmonized provisions of House Bill 684 and Senate Bill 1255, both of which seek to amend Republic Act 1477 or “An Act Amending Section One Of Republic Act Numbered Fifty-Three, Entitled An Act To Exempt The Publisher, Editor, Columnist Or Reporter Of Any Publication From Revealing The Source Of Published News Or Information Obtained In Confidence."
The proposed amendment provides that any publisher, owner or duly recognized or accredited journalist, writer, reporter, editor, columnist and media practitioner involved in writing, editing, production and dissemination of news for mass circulation, whether in print, broadcast or electronic mass media, cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news item, report or information.
The source shall only be required should the House of Representatives, or the Senate or any of the committee of the Congress finds that such revelation of the source is demanded by the security of the State.
House Bill 684 is principally authored by Rep. Raul del Mar while Senate Bill 1255 is authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
According to Del Mar, an amendment to the existing law is needed as it does not mention anything about journalists from broadcast stations, news or wire agencies and internet newspapers, magazines and other publications.
"It is an omission that must be filled, an anomaly that must be corrected. The journalists envisioned by the Sotto Law cannot be confined to print practitioners," Del Mar said.
Del Mar explained that when Republic Act 53 was enacted, electronic journalism was almost non-existent, while the internet was not even a dream.
Republic Act 53 was approved in 1946, while Republic Act 1477 was approved in 1956.