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Enrile says Senate can't tackle Right of Reply bill

CEBU, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday that time constraints may further delay discussions on the Right of Reply bill.

During a press conference with the local media here in Cebu, the senate president disclosed that “there is no time” to pass the proposed measure as the Senate would be discussing more important things before it would finally go on a recess for the coming May 2010 elections. 

He explained that today the Senate will have a break for one week and will resume next week to discuss next year’s proposed budget.

Further, Enrile said that when they resume their session after Christmas break, they will tackle the proposed amendments on the Omnibus Election Code.

According to the senator, he is personally against the Right of Reply bill, “which is flawed by imposing unreasonable requirements on newspapers and broadcast networks.”

Senate Bill No. 2150, whose principal authors include Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., proposes a fine or imprisonment for media workers and outlets that fail to print the reply of an aggrieved subject of a published report. It is now pending in the House of Representatives.

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Enrile said it may be too much to require a newspaper to publish the reply of an offended reader on the same page and with equal prominence or amount of space. This provision of the bill, he said, may be interpreted to mean that if a report that is derogatory to certain individuals is the daily’s banner headline story, the reply should be treated in a similar manner.

“Or if you are attacked in the newspaper’s editorial, that means your reply will have to be printed in the same space reserved for the editorial,” Enrile said. “Newspapers and TV-radio networks should be given some flexibility in complying with the right-to-reply rule but, surely the reply should be given more or less the same prominence as the offensive article.”

With regards to the proposed amendments on the Omnibus Election Code, Enrile said “there are many prohibitions that are no longer applicable on the upcoming poll elections.”

This includes substitution of candidates which is allowed in case of death, disqualification and withdrawal. The law allows a substitute candidate duly nominated by the political party concerned to file his certificate of candidacy not later than mid-day of election day.

Meanwhile, Enrile said yesterday that he is seeking reelection as senator under Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Joseph Estrada this coming 2010 elections. – Johanna T. Natavio/WAB    (FREEMAN NEWS)

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