Press Release
November 9, 2008


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that penalties should be imposed on media who are guilty of using the words "Muslim" or "Islamic" in describing criminals and suspects in news reports, saying it highly offends the Islamic religious culture.

"The use of words "Muslim" and "Islamic" in association with suspected or convicted 'criminals and unlawful acts are offensively biased against Muslims. This practice is highly prejudicial and extremely injurious to the Islamic religious culture, Muslim individuals and their collective image, and the Muslim's social well being as respectable citizens of the country," said Angara, who filed SB 914 which seeks to penalize media bias against Muslims.

He added, "Outlawing this culturally and religiously biased practice would definitely contribute and result in increased positive social space and understanding between and among Muslims and Non-Muslims, and help drive the path towards a just, culturally-sensitive, fair, and lasting peace and development in out country."

Angara noted that some members of the local and national media continue to callously lambast the Muslim religious culture of describing criminals and suspects with terms such as "Muslim Criminals", "Muslim Terrorists", "Muslim Drug Pushers", Muslim Sea Pirates", "Muslim Bandits" or "Muslim Holduppers".

In a study conducted by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) titled "Prejudice and Pride: News Media's Role in Promoting Tolerance," it identified biases against Muslims in news reports as manifested by the lack of clear reportage on issues affecting their community.

The study also showed that there has been a 'growing perception that media tend to give attention to Muslims of extremist views who do not represent the majority of Muslims.' Among their recommendations include: creating a comprehensive framework for media reportage and by adopting non-discriminatory approach to news reporting.

Through SB 914, it shall be unlawful for any person to use the word "Muslim" or "Islamic" in print, television and other forms of broadcast media to refer to or describe any person convicted of a crime or suspected of committing any unlawful act.

A penalty of arresto mayor or a fine ranging from one thousand pesos (Php 1,000) to Ten thousand pesos (Php10,000), or both, at the discretion of the court, shall be imposed upon any person found guilty of the act. The publisher and the president media outfits shall also be liable of an amount not lower than Fifty thousand pesos (Php 50,000). Cancellation of license or franchise of the media outfit may also be imposed.

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