Stop bullying media

16 June 2015

The threat by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to cite The Standard reporter Christine Herrera in contempt unless she names members of the House of Representatives who allegedly received bribes to approve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is a brazen act of bullying.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga’s move to cite Ms. Herrera in contempt reveals not only his ignorance or but also his propensity to violate the law that legislators like him created.

The law was precisely enacted to protect sources of reporters and the journalists themselves against any attempt to force them to identify sources who have offered information on the condition of anonymity.

We are certain our lawmakers are fully aware of Republic Act 53, or the Sotto Law, Section 1 of which clearly says:
The publisher, editor or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news-report or information appearing in said publication which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter, unless the court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the State.

Clearly, Ms. Herrera was in the right to invoke the Sotto Law and refuse to name her confidential sources.

We do not see how anyone in the supposedly august chamber can invoke national security in trying to force Ms. Herrera to divulge any confidential information. House members would do better to undertake their own housecleaning instead of breaking the law to soothe their bruised egos.

Bullying and intimidating Herrera is forcing her to violate one of the basic tenets of journalism on the protection of confidentiality of sources.

This could set a precedent on House investigations involving journalists and poses a threat to the integrity of the media and journalists.

Rupert Francis Mangilit
Secretary General