Press Release
June 13, 2008


The Senate has approved Senate Bill 2150 recognizing the rights of persons to reply to media reports or commentaries that are erroneous, unfair or biased against them and injurious to their reputation.

The right to reply bill, principally authored by Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. and co-authored by Senators Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Francis Escudero, was passed on second reading by the Senate Wednesday evening shortly before the first regular session of the 14th Congress adjourned.

The bill provides that "all persons who are accused directly or indirectly of any crime or offense or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published in newspapers and other publications or to criticisms aired over radio, television, website or through any electrical device."

Pimentel said the right to reply is part of the freedom of expression of the people intended to protect themselves from inaccurate or untruthful articles in the media that put them in bad light or malign them, intentionally or not.

He stressed that the exercise of this fundamental right will widen the freedoms of expression and of the press as he disputed criticisms that it may curtail the journalistic freedom of media practitioners.

"It is our humble view that the right of reply is not an infringement at all on the freedom of the press. On the contrary, it is an expansion of that right so that the people in general will enjoy the right of free speech which should be respected by the media," the minority leader said.

The bill provides that the reply of the person so accused or criticized shall be published in the same space of the newspapers or publications or aired in the same radio or television program where the article or commentary was printed, shown or aired.

Under the legislative measure, the editor-in-chief, publisher or station manager of the publication or broadcast station who fails or refuses to publish or broadcast the reply of the offended reader or listener shall be liable to the payment of fines.

It authorizes the courts to recommend to the appropriate media organizations to impose sanctions on erring editors, publishers and station managers of the newspapers or broadcast networks concerned.

Blocktimers or those who are hosting programs in the TV or radio stations by paying for the broadcast time, shall be subject to the Code of Ethics or the realm of self-regulation of the network or station.

Pimentel said the right of reply will deter the aggrieved persons from resorting to violence to get back at media personalities who wrote or uttered the stories or commentaries that are unflattering or defamatory to them.

"Probably, by giving the persons being criticized a chance to reply and get their reply published, according to the strictures of this bill, then hopefully we can reduce the incidence of 'resort-to-the-gun' as a way to even up things with media practitioners," he said.

With a mechanism for settling the grievances of the newspaper readers or broadcast listeners over media items that are erroneous and damaging to them, Pimentel said there is reason to hope that media killings in the country will be curbed or eliminated and become a thing of the past.

News Latest News Feed