The message of the members of the press to House Speaker Prospero
Nograles was clear: No bargaining on the passage of the right of reply
bill at the Lower House.
Leaders of media institutions attended a dialogue called by the
Speaker this morning at Melo’s Steak House in Quezon City.
“The bill is an abridgement of our freedom. This is not something open
to negotiation,” said Vergel Santos, a journalist since martial and
now Chair of the Editorial Board of the daily broadsheet Business
World and Trustee of the media monitoring group Center for Media
Freedom and Responsibility.
At the same forum, Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. of the 6th District of
Manila and chair of the committee on public information said his
committee is planning to amend their version of the bill and water it
down to something, he believes, is acceptable to the working press.
Nograles added that “there is pressure because it has been passed in
the Senate.” He said the bill will be open to floor deliberations when
Congress reopens in April, claiming they have no choice because it was
transmitted to them by the Senate as soon as it was passed on July 28,
However, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
vice-chairperson Nonoy Espina said these were nothing but bargaining
chips being dangled to the press.
“Although we respect the House processes, we just want to reiterate
that our stand is final. We don’t want the bill, we want it totally
In its signature drive against the right of reply bill, the NUJP has
garnered close to 300 signatures from across the country in just a
span of two weeks.
Other media leaders at the dialogue included Joe Pavia, ecxecutive
director of the Philippine Press Institute, Isagani Yambot and Neal
Cruz, publisher and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nine
Cacho-Olivares, publisher of the Daily Tribune, Dr. Cris Icban,
editor-in-chief of the Manila Bulettin, Charie Villa, head for news
gathering of ABS CBN, Alwyn Alburo, senior desk officer of GMA 7 and
NUJP deputy secretary-general, Ed Lingao, head for news operations of
ABC TV-5, and Marichu Villanueva, news editor of the Philippine Star.
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