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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Poe rethinks right of reply stand

After years of repeatedly saying the right of reply infringes on press freedom, Sen. Grace Poe now thinks it’s needed “because there are some people who are not given the right.”

STATEMENT

In a Senate committee hearing on fake news earlier this month, right of reply was discussed, and Poe said:

My initial position was, we don’t need to legislate because I don’t want to tell media what… we don’t want to ‘over-legislate.’ But is there a need for that? Maybe now we do. Because there are some people who are not given the right also.”


Source: PTV, Senate hearing on the proliferation of fake and/or misleading news and false information.
watch from 2:34:58-2:35:20

A right of reply law entitles individuals the right to defend themselves from criticism in the same venue where the criticism was published or aired.

Poe said this “can be considered, especially with online news” which she claimed has fewer space and airtime constraints compared to print or broadcast news.

FLIP FLOP

Four years ago, Poe held the opposite view.

In several interviews in 2013, Poe said the right of reply is a form of media censorship. She did not make distinctions between print, broadcast and online news.

The House of Representatives at the time was deliberating whether to include a right of reply provision in the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. The Senate version of the bill, authored by Poe did not have such a provision.

In a Net 25 interview Poe said:

Ito po ay aking opinyon at opinyon din ng halos 20 resource person natin na ang right of reply ay isang pagdidikta kung papano mo dapat ginagawa ang trabaho mo. Mas naniniwala po kasi ako sa self-regulation. Sa Senado po, lahat ng senators na nag-sponsor, hindi po namin nilagay ang right of reply. (This is my opinion, and the opinion of almost 20 resource persons, that the right of reply dictates how one should do his job. I believe more in self-regulation. In the Senate, all senators who sponsored the FOI bill, did not put the right of reply)

Source: Senate Press Release. Interview with Senator Grace Poe Sa Ganang Mamamayan at NET25. October 17, 2013

She repeated her stand in a Radyo5 interview:

Meron rin sa aming naniniwala na hindi po natin pwedeng diktahan ang pwedeng isulat dahil parang form of censorship na rin iyon… Sabi ko naman, media also has the capability to correct itself. Kapag meron naman kasi ng libelous na bagay-bagay, ibang batas iyon. Dapat hindi iyon isama sa FOI (Some of us believe we cannot dictate upon what should be written by the media because that would be censorship… I’ve always said the media also has the capability to correct itself. Libel is covered under a different law. A right of reply provision shouldn’t be included in the FOI.)

Source: Senate Press Release. Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe’s Radyo5 interview on FOI. January 29, 2014

In May 2014, two months after the Senate approved the FOI bill, Poe called for “sustained public pressure” against the right of reply becoming law. Her call was published by at least two online news outfits, DZRH and Inquirer.net:

“I’ve always asserted that the right of reply is a form of intrusion in our right to press freedom. Although many times we question the motives of media and fair journalism is sometimes under threat, a real democracy should encourage self-regulation. Ultimately, it is the people that will determine the credibility and fairness of lawmakers and the media alike,”

Source: Inquirer.net. Poe: Right of reply curtails press freedom. May 23, 2014

The counterpart FOI bill did not pass the House because of debates on right of reply.

Media organizations for their part have opposed moves to enact a right of reply law. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said such law is “tantamount to prior restraint” as it dictates upon journalists what news stories should be published or broadcast.

Currently, one bill filed in the House seeks to legislate the right of reply.

A consolidated FOI bill, without a right of reply provision, has been pending second reading in the Senate since Oct. 19 last year.

Sources:

PTV. Senate hearing on the Proliferation of Fake and/or Misleading News and False Information. October 4, 2017

Inquirer.net. Poe: Right of reply curtails press freedom. May 23, 2014

DZRH News. Poe urges public to press for “right of reply” law. May 23, 2014

Senate Press Release. Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe’s Radyo5 interview on FOI, Punto Asintado hosted by Mr. Erwin Tulfo and Mr. Martin Andanar. Jan. 29, 2014

Senate Press Release. Interview with Senator Grace Poe Sa Ganang Mamamayan at NET25. October 17, 2013

The Mindanao Examiner. NUJP Primer on the right of reply bill. March 11, 2009

ABS-CBN. Journalists declare opposition to right of reply bill. Feb. 25, 2009

GMA News. Journalists tag right-of-reply-bill ‘act of terrorism’ vs media. Feb. 24, 2009

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)