Amended law now includes protection of sources for broadcast, online media 

BROADCAST and online journalists are now covered by a bill protecting journalists from being forced to disclose their sources.

According to a copy of the measure made public by Malacañang on Wednesday, September 25, Republic Act (RA) No. 11458, an amendment to RA No. 53 or the Sotto law, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 30.

The Sotto Law only used to cover print journalists from being compelled to reveal their sources, unless the court or Congress determines that disclosure is demanded by the security of the state.

Under the new law, any media practitioner from television, radio, online, and wire service news organizations can now protect their confidential sources.

“Without prejudice to his liability under the civil and criminal laws, any publisher, owner, or duly recognized or accredited journalist, writer, reporter, contributor, opinion writer, editor, columnist, manager, media practitioner involved in the writing, editing, production, and dissemination of news for mass circulation, of any print, broadcast, wire service organization, or electronic mass media, including cable TV and its variants, cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news items, report or information appearing or being reported or disseminated through said media, which was related in confidence to the abovementioned media practitioners unless the court or the House of Representatives or the Senate or any committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State,” the amended law read.

According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the grandson of the late Senator Vicente Yap Sotto who was the main author of the Press Freedom Law, Duterte signing the measure “is proof that this government will never waver from its responsibility to protect journalists from legal and security threats.”

He also thanked Duterte for acknowledging the law’s significance.

“I have always been and will always be a strong advocate of the freedom of information and an avid guardian of the rights that our journalists justly deserve,” Sotto said Wednesday.

He also noted that the Philippine media would “always thrive in the freedoms that our forefathers have sought and successfully won to ensure democracy in our country.”

Sotto was the one who introduced the Senate measure to expand the original law, saying the expansion was necessary as advances in technology had also expanded the coverage of mass media.

Sen. Grace Poe, who sponsored the measure in the previous Congress, welcomed the enactment of the measure.

“The freedom of the press and the right of the public to know are fortified when the media is able to gather and report news unimpaired and unafraid,” she said, noting that anonymous sources have played important roles in exposing anomalies and corruption. 

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