House panel approves expanding law to protect journalists' sources

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2016 09:53 PM

MANILA - The House Committee on Public Information has approved bills expanding the coverage of the so-called Sotto Law, which allow journalists protect the identities of their sources.

House Bills 684 and 1479 seek to amend Republic Act 53, which exempts a publisher, editor or reporter of any publication from revealing the source of published news or information obtained in confidence.

The bills seek to include journalists from broadcast firms, news agencies, and online publications.

The committee also approved HBs 2588 and 3027, which require the use of Filipino sign language insets for local news programs, amending Section 22 of RA 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities.

All these bills were already approved in the preceding Congress, making it possible for the committee to fast-track their approval under Section 48 of the House rules.

The same panel also started its deliberations on the 30 bills, privilege speech, and resolution seeking the enactment of a freedom of information law.

During the hearing, Committee Chairman Antonio Tinio said he hopes that the House can approve its FOI bill within the year.