The proponents of the Right to Reply Bill authored by Sens. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Francis “Chiz” Escudero claim that this measure could reduce the incidence of journalist killings “by giving the persons being criticized a chance to reply and get their reply published.” They even claim that would “widen the freedom of expression” so that the said right could be enjoyed not only by journalists, but “by the public in general”. But the bill provides that editors, publishers, or station managers of publications or broadcast stations who fail or refuse to publish the replies of criticized persons shall have to pay fines, aside from authorizing media organizations impose sanctions. How such a measure can widen freedom of expression in a country where journalists have had to work under threat of libel suits and killings is something that is known only to the proponents of the Right to Reply Bill. The bill, if implemented, will add to the swords of Damocles hanging over the heads of journalists in the Philippines.
BY FLON FAURILLO