NUJP on HB 4807
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines urges the authors of House Bill 4807 to withdraw the measure and members of the House of Representatives to vote it down should they fail to do so.
While we will concede that the measure, also known as “An Act to Provide Protection From Personal Intrusion for Commercial Purposes,” may have been filed with all the best intentions in mind, it poses an all too real threat not only to freedom of the press but on the very right to free expression.
The bill’s avowed aim, to “curb acts of trespassing and other intrusions on personal privacy committed by any person in order to capture visual or sound impressions of an individual, with intent to gain or profit,” is overly broad as are the provisions that list the ways by which violations may be committed.
We agree that people are entitled to privacy and, in fact, the Constitution guarantees as much, in all matters that are personal and have nothing to do with the public interest.
But the measure’s intent is so broad it is likely to be used as another weapon for the criminal and the corrupt to escape accountability should it become law.
That the measure would punish even “the fact that no visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person was actually sold for gain or profit,” makes it even more insidious.
We are sure that the authors of the bill know only too well that media outfits are essentially “for profit” enterprises. But the institutional media aside, the measure could end up stifling citizen journalism and even simply taking pictures or videos for personal pleasure.
In an era where technology is quickly breaking down the obstacles that hamper the flow of information and expression, which are the bedrock of democracy, HB 4807 could return us to the dark ages and worse, be used as a weapon of suppression and repression.
While at it, we are equally disturbed at how the bill has swiftly made its way through the legislative mill to be approved on second reading without any of the sectors its passage would impact on informed about it, much less invited to discuss its implications.
The authors of the bill and the House of Representatives as a whole would do the nation a truly great service to the nation and the Filipino people by discarding this and any similar legislation and instead pouring their energies into passing and enacting the Freedom of Information bill.
Rowena C. Paraan