Although she had a relatively bad press or media during her tenure as president of the Republic, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has turned to be a champion of media rights in the chamber.
This, as all indications show the new leadership of the House of Representatives is not inclined to support a resolution being pushed at the chamber that imposes restrictions on media coverage.
Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, chairman of the House Committee on Public Information, said the House leadership would not likely support the measure.
“I am sure the leadership will not support it,” said Evardone, referring to House Resolution
2149 filed by Antipolo City Rep. Cristina Roa-Puno, which proposes to adopt proposed rules for media coverage of the House of Representatives.
The resolution was filed last Sept. 4.
Roa-Puno’s resolution emanates from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s memorandum enumerating “what reporters cannot do or write” at the House.
The House’ proposed guidelines for media coverage, among others, seek to prohibit reporters and cameramen from interviewing lawmakers in front of the session hall and at the lobby directly fronting the glass doors.
Roa-Puno said the proposed media guidelines have been revised which noted that among the many designated “no coverage zones” include the South Lounge of the main building; roof decks; elevators; entrances and foyer areas; hallways and corridors connecting offices; committee rooms, Office of the Speaker, including the social hall and hallway; rear entrance, including the office of the majority leader, the executive lounge and the North lounge extension; and the private offices of congressmen and officials and employees of the House.
Roa-Puno, in a text message sent to the House media, said her resolution “does not in any way curtail press freedom.”
“We have revised the version first presented to media during Alvarez’ time. The current version went through consultations even with media members and please be assured it does not in any way curtail press freedom,” she said.
“As a media practitioner, I made sure of it. This is just for the safety of both members and media members and also to safeguard order and security within the House,” Roa-Puno said.
In her resolution, Roa-Puno, a former media practitioner, said “there is a need to merge, codify, and amend the various rules on media coverage, in accordance with acceptable standards of courtesy, propriety, dignity and decorum to ultimately guide media representatives in their coverage of Plenary sessions, Committee hearings, and other news events in the House, and while they undertake press conferences, interviews, and other media-related activities in the House, for education, enlightenment and information of the public, on the basis of accurate and impartial news coverage.”
Evardone said his panel would have to review thoroughly the resolution which recommends for the adoption of strict guidelines on how reporters should conduct coverage at the Lower House.
While the committee has yet to come up with a definitive stand on the matter, Evardone, at a news conference, said: “we will not allow the diminution of access to the media.”
Alvarez had the draft document released last April at the height of his spats with some House members.
The Alvarez’s 19-page draft document released by the Press and Public Affairs Bureau seeks to prevent reporters who “besmirch the reputation of the House of Representatives, its officials or members.”
The PPAB is the House agency tasks to accredits reporters covering the Lower House.
In the draft document, the PPAB said the rules must be updated to “preserv[e] the dignity of the institution and not compromising or hampering the legislative work of the lawmakers.”
Many lawmakers have said the draft regulations are based on “subjective and ambiguous issues.”
In the Alvarez’s draft document, the PPAB said the rules must be updated to “preserv[e] the dignity of the institution and not compromising or hampering the legislative work of the lawmakers.”
The proposed list of violations for the revocation of one’s accreditation card and consequently, the reporter’s expulsion from the House beat, are the following:
• If applicant/bearer is found to have made false claims
• If applicant/bearer is involved in activities that run counter to or violate the policies of the House
• If bearer abuses the privileges and entitlements extended to House-accredited media
• If bearer is found guilty of gross misconduct
• If the bearer besmirches the reputation of the House of Representatives, its officials, or members
• If the bearer commits any other similar acts or misdeeds