Tuesday, March 28, 2023

President Duterte Signs New Law Exempting Online Media from Revealing Sources

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President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law exempting online media from revealing their sources. Signed on August 30, the RA 11458 expanded the coverage of RA 53, which was confined to print media.

RA 11458
Photo from Kriz John Rosales

According to RA 53 of the 1946 law, print media are not compelled to reveal their sources published in their news reports, except in cases that involve national security.

Persuant to Section 1 of RA 11458 (also known as “Sotto Law”), those who are covered by this law are publishers, owners, or duly recognized or accredited journalists, writers, reporters, contributors, opinion writers, editors, columnists, managers, media practitioners involved in the writing, editing, production, and dissemination of news for mass circulation, of any print, broadcast, wire service organization, or electronic mass media, including cable TV and its variants.

Section 1 of the said law also states that those who covered “cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news item, report or information, appearing or being reported or disseminated through said media which was related in confidence to the abovementioned media practitioners unless the court or the House of Representatives or the Senate or any committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State.

Senator Grace Poe, former chairperson of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, said that the legislation could not be used in order to protect a person from libel but it also would protect media practitioners from being compelled or forced to reveal their sources but “not from spewing out malicious imputations under the guise of journalism.

Through this law, we want to embolden whistleblowers to speak out. If they cannot approach government institutions, then they should at least be able to approach the media,” Poe added.

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