Press Release
December 22, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) has proposed that the right of journalists to safeguard their sources of information particularly in regard to reporting about terrorism-related stories be guaranteed and protected under the propose Anti-Terrorism Act.

This is one of the 59 amendments to the controversial bill that the minority bloc is pushing to ensure that the civil liberties of the people are not unduly violated in the campaign against terrorism.

Pimentel raised the following questions which should be resolved by Congress:

  • Would information about the existence of terror cells or the hideouts of terrorists furnished journalists, for instance, be subject to compulsion to be divulged?
  • If the answer is yes, what happens to the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and of the press?
  • Where is the boundary for the legitimate keeping of journalistic confidentialities and the need to divulge the same for the sake of the security of the state?

Pimentel also sought exemption from the power of law enforcement authorities to monitor or tap the medical correspondence verbal or written of doctors to their patients and vice-versa in case where the patients are under investigation for alleged terrorist links.

I suggest that there is more reason to exempt the correspondence, message and records of journalists from being monitored, bugged, recorded or from being subpoenaed or used under legal compunction in investigations or terrorist trials than the communications between doctors and patients, he said.

In batting for the protection of the confidentiality of communications between journalists and their sources, Pimentel invoked Article III, section 4 of the Constitution which provides: No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

He also cited the position of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the United States that if any journalist strongly and legitimately suspects that his or her communications with a source are being intercepted by a third party, that journalist simply cannot promise confidentiality in good faith to an international source when that source could face torture or death if the communication is revealed

Pimentel also asked:

If the bill is passed, could not the President or her husband or the justice secretary or the interior and local government secretary and sundry other hangers-on to the presidential hemline simply tag journalists who criticize then as terrorists and have them picked up without a warrant, detain them for a certain number of days, seize and sequester their properties and freeze their financial assets?

That is far easier thing to do than file libel cases as the Presidents husband has done when he haled to the criminal courts of law 43 journalists as of Sept. 6, 2006.

News Latest News Feed