VIDEO | F-O-What? Aquino expresses support for ‘Right of Reply’

November 17, 2012 1:41 AM

File photo of President Benigno Aquino III from Malacanang Press Bureau
MANILA, Philippines – Amid clamors for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, President Aquino on Thursday made known to journalists what he would support: right of reply, which some legislators want included in the FOI bill.

In a speech he delivered during the 38th top level management conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas in Tagaytay City, Aquino stressed the importance of reporting positive stories and not just negative ones. 

He said Filipinos and the country would benefit from truthful, balanced, and complete reporting, which essentially is something similar to his principles on issues about the media and the public like his favorable view on the right of reply. 

Sa dulo po nito, tayo ring mga Pilipino ang makikinabang sa makatotohanan at kumpletong pamamahayag. Kapag may sapat at  tamang impormasyon si Juan dela Cruz sa mga isyung panlipunan—hindi lamang siya armado sa kaalaman—gaganahan at maeengganyo rin siyang makilahok sa pagpapaunlad ng bayan,” said Aquino. 

[In the end, it will be us Filipinos who will benefit from truthful and complete reporting. If Juan dela Cruz has sufficient and correct information on social issues, he would not just be armed with knowledge, he would also be motivated and encouraged to join in making the country progressive.] 

Hindi po nalalayo sa diwang ito ang paninindigan natin ukol sa mga isyu tungkol samedia at publiko, tulad ng Right of Reply. Ika nga: the truth will set you free—kung patas na naibabalita ang magkabilang panig ng bawat storya, kung wasto ang detalye ng bawat ulat, at kung nabibigyang-halaga ang kalayaan ng mga Pilipinong bumuo ng sariling pananaw at pasya sa mga usaping panlipunan, wala naman pong dapat alalahanin ang sinumang mamamahayag, ‘di po ba?” the President added. 

[This is not far from our principles on the issues about the media and the public like the Right of Reply. As the saying goes: the truth will set you free – if both sides are being fairly reported in every story, and if the freedom of Filipinos to make their own views and decisions on social issues is given importance, there is no reason for any journalist to be worried about anything, isn’t it?”] 


‘Allergic to good news’

In the earlier part of his speech, Aquino said that he had observed that the media had the tendency of reporting mostly negative news. 

Sa karanasan ko po, tila ba nakasanayan na ng media ang mapaulan ng batikos sa mga lumalabas na balita. Allergic po yata ang iba sa good news-kundi man iiwasan ang mga ito, ay hahanapan naman nila ng masamang anggulo,” he said. 

[In my experience, it appears that the media have gotten used to issuing a lot of criticisms on the news that comes out. It seems that some of them are allergic to good news-if they don’t avoid it, they look for the negative angle of a story.] 

He said that as purveyors of truth, the media’s responsibility is to present both sides of the story from specific and verified sources. 

“Bilang mga alagad ng katotohanan, ang responsibilidad po ng mga mamamahayag ay ilatag ang dalawang panig ng anumang kwento mula sa tiyak at beripikado nitong pinagmulan,” said Aquino. 

Right of reply’s inclusion in FOI

Last November 13, the House Committee on Public Information failed to vote for the approval of the FOI bill. [SEE RELATED STORY: House panel cuts short hearing on FOI bill to give way to quorumless planary session]

Despite the presence of a quorum, the committee, headed by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone did not vote to approve the proposed measure and send it to the plenary.

The hearing on the FOI bill had to be cut early due to the 4 p.m. plenary session only to find out later in the day that there was no quorum because only 139 House members were in the 
plenary hall.  

According to Evardone, the bill is not yet ripe for voting because the committee still has to “hear from several congressmen what they have ro say.” 

Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonio is among the legislators opposing the immediate passage of the bill. Antonino is pushing for the inclusion of a provision on the right of reply in the FOI bill. 

Antonino on Tuesday said he should be given time to explain the right of reply provision. During the committee hearing, he protested lengthily why his version of the bill was not discussed by the technical working group headed by Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III. 

Tañada argued that Antonino’s proposal included the right of reply provision, which was contentious and only the mother committee could approve. 

Not lobbying vs FOI

On Wednesday, Malacanang denied claims by FOI proponents that it had a hand in delaying the passage of the bill. [SEE RELATED STORY: Malacanang washes hands of FOI bill’s ‘death’]

“That’s not true. It’s not true that Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa (Jr.) is lobbying against FOI,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.

“Categorically, we have submitted our (version of the) FOI bill. We have no hand in delaying (the passage of) the bill,” he said.

Lacierda said that as far as the Palace is concerned, they hope that the measure would be approved at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

“We don’t know what was going on there (House of Representatives). As far as our discussions (are concerned), (Budget and Management) Secretary Butch Abad and I discussed with Congressman (Ben) Evardone. We were hoping that it would be out of committee,” he said. – with reports from Philippine News Agency 


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