December 9, 2022

Bicol Express News

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Media groups, academe rebukes Ombudsman to amend RA 6713

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The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees(RA 6713) will be amended if the proposed legislation of Ombudsman Samuel Martires that will carry a jail time and a fine for anyone who will issue “further commentaries “ on the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) required on those who are in the government.

It will limit the reporting of news and communication media strictly on the reported facts provided in the statement. His proposed bill was sent to the House of Representative.

This comes under fire from the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) saying that SALN reporting was “part of the press” and reminded the Ombudsman that is is part of the vital role of the press to seek transparency and transparency in a democracy.

It also reminded that as the Ombudsman should be the first to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability instead of preventing the press from doing such reporting.

Under RA 6713 paragraph D of Section 8 the use of SALN for commercial purposes is prohibited except for “news and communications media for
dissemination to the general public.

The Philippines media has seen the move as a repressive instrument to restrict access to SALN which according to Danilo Arao a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines said Martires draft bill promotes a kind of journalism that “defeats the purpose of in-depth reportage where “further commentaries” are absolutely
necessary in providing necessary context. Saying further that it exacerbate media repression under Duterte and reflects wanton ignorance of a principle of journalism called truth telling which is essentially a combination of factual and contextual accuracy.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism also opposes the amendment introduced by Martires during the budget deliberation of the proposed budget of the office of the Ombudsman at the House of Representatives.

According to Danilo Zarate, deputy minority leader said that penalizing or jailing a media person for merely expressing an opinion or comment on the SALN of a government official or employee is certainly very harsh and may even constitute an undue curtailment of a guaranteed constitutional rights .

(Originally published by INQUIRER.NET)