Duterte signs expanded law on protection of journalists' sources

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2019 11:06 AM | Updated as of Sep 25 2019 06:50 PM

MANILA – (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a measure meant to expand the coverage of the so-called Sotto Law, which allows journalists to protect the identities of their sources.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III, a main author of the measure in the previous congress, provided a copy of the law signed by the president last August 30.

The 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.

Under the law, divulging a journalist’s source shall only be required should the court, House of Representatives, or the Senate or any of the committees of congress find that such revelation is important for the security of the state.

In the previous version of the law, Republic Act 1477, there was no mention of publishers, editors, columnists or reporters from broadcast or electronic mass media.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Wednesday the amendment shows how the Duterte administration respects and upholds press freedom.

“By signing this law, the President has reinforced jurisprudence on the matter which pronounces that, ‘[t]he sanctity of a newsman's source of information is not only intended to protect a newsman but also the source of his information. When a person transmits confidential information to a newsman, he is exercising his freedom of speech on condition of anonymity’,” Panelo said. -with a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News