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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why journalists should not support the RH bill

From Sun Star Baguio:

By Sam Bautista

YOU can count in one hand the number of journalists (well locally anyway) who have expressed their opposition to the Reproductive Health bills filed in the House of Representatives (HB 4244) and the Senate of the Philippines (SB 2865). Literally.

Aside from columnists Fr. Andy Cosalan and Mike del Rosario, the only other Baguio-based journalist I know who is against the RH bills is me. Sure, you can probably count in Bro. Jimmy Bernabe (of DzWT) but there probably isn’t any other.

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If you have a journalist friend, ask him or her this simple question: “Do you support the RH bill?” and you will probably get a positive response. But ask him (or her) if he (or she) has actually read the bills in Congress, the answer would probably be a “No”.

Which is really funny because how can you support something so important in our lives unless you fully understand its contents?

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Saturday’s symposium on the RH Bills and why the Catholic Church is so staunchly against it. Thanks to the Sacred Heart Community for inviting me to this very important discussion. Thanks too to the Diocese of Baguio and Benguet for the opportunity which only solidified my objection to this piece of legislation which started out with a lie and continues to lie to the Filipino people.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to journalists.

If only my colleagues were there Saturday, especially those pro-RH, then they may change their tune if only on one account.

You see if there is one thing which journalists will vehemently and rabidly oppose is censorship. Censorship meaning government curtailing anyone’s right to self expression and especially the Freedom of Speech and of the Press.

And yet, majority of journalists would support the RH Bill without even knowing it is one of the vehicle by which these freedoms, which the 1987 Constitution assures, will be attacked. The RH bills if passed by Congress will definitely disallow these freedoms journalists hold dear and close to their hearts.

So, ask your journalist friend again if he (or she) knows this little known fact, and you might just get a blank stare. Yes, a blank stare from one we look up to because they are supposed to know more about these things than mere humans.

Yes, friends, it will curtail our right to speech and the press. Yes, it will muffle your voice once it passes Congress muster.

How so?

Well, under the prohibited acts section of HB 4244, Section 28, this paragraph is included:

“The following acts are prohibited… e) Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.”

The punishment for violating this paragraph are, under Section 29. Penalties, imprisonment from one month to six months, or a fine of P10,000 up to P50,000, or both upon the discretion and direction of the court.

Maliciously engages in disinformation about the RH law is merely legalese to mean no one may talk AGAINST the law. Which means me, if this thing passes. In fact, I expect to spend six months of every year in prison and lose all my earnings because I will not stop talking against this RH thingy especially if Congress passes it into law.

Maliciously engages in disinformation about the RH law is censorship, pure and simple.

So it really is a wonder why any member of the press could even support a bill which guarantees State censorship.

Anyway, challenge your journalist friend to first study the RH bills in the House and Senate just to see if they know what it truly affects him (or her).

Tomorrow: The RH bill is pro-woman? Don’t bet a breast cancer on it!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 21, 2011.

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