honasan’s “other purposes” #censorship

13 November 2012

check out senate bill no. 3244 sponsored by senator honasan also known as “gringo” also known as coup plotter in the times of marcos and cory.

it is called An Act To Decriminalize Libel And For Other Purposes [sic].  indeed it seeks to decriminalize libel, great! BUT BUT BUT it also provides that no mass media practitioner can practice his/her profession unless he/she is a member of a professional organization that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)!!!

read lawyer mel sta. ana’s Once again, government’s intrusive mindset threatens the press – and bloggers.

The constitutionally repugnant objective of this prohibitory bill is clear. Journalists or news-reporters cannot print, broadcast or publish their thoughts, ideas, opinions, gathered-news or other works, whether friendly or critical, significant or trivial, indifferent or provocative, conscientious or mindless, unless they are certified members of an organization allowed by government to exist. Simply stated, the general rule is no practice of journalism and no news-reporting activities shall be allowed if there is no membership in a government-approved and registered media organization.

… What is more frightening is that the bill explicitly makes a prohibition on “practitioners of mass communications” unqualifiedly. It expansively encompasses, not only journalists and news-reporters, but everybody in the profession: photojournalists, broadcasters, commentators, artists, printers, publishers, editors, writers, news-readers and even cameramen/women involved in mass dissemination of news and opinions.

… Senate Bill No. 3244, if it becomes law, seriously prejudices not only the journalists, news reporters, bloggers and other practitioners of mass media; it further prejudices the public as a whole. It will deprive the public of information necessary to make important choices.

wow, ha.  so if the honorable senators pass this bill into law, i cannot write blogs or books or even letters to the editor anymore because i do not belong, i choose not to be beholden, to any registered media org. that has the blessings of the government?

i googled honasan’s SB 3244 and found that it’s introduced by an explanatory note where honasan quotes Article 19 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that the Phlippines ratified in 1986.

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

a. For respect of the rights or reputations of others; [bold mine]
b. For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.

there’s more from honasan, but nothing anywhere that says that the suppression of independent (read, non-establishment) thinking and writing is the way to achieve 3a or 3b.

very clearly, to me anyway, the real concern is 3a, keeping their — the legislators’, among other government officials’ — reputations unsullied by unsympathetic or unimpressed critics, mainstream and online.  BUT BUT BUT the only way to achieve that is by getting their acts together, start truly caring, and acting, for nation, as promised, so that there is no cause for criticism.

sabi nga ni socrates, whom enrile threatens to translate a la sotto/kennedy:

“For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censoring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.” [plato writing in “Apology” via marck ronald rimorin)

oh, and may i ask senator honasan, does SB 3244 mean that what senator enrile did in his memoir — like playing fast and loose with the reputations of senator salonga and cardinal sin by calling them liars when they can’t defend themselves anymore — would no longer be allowed?  and would enrile then have to register as a mass media practitioner if he’s serious about writing those two more books on his life as a lawyer and his life as a senator?

just asking.

21 Responses to honasan’s “other purposes” #censorship

  1. November 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Rather scary. It struck me that, although the Philippines modeled its governmental framework off of the United States, the notion of what democracy means is vastly different. In the U.S. liberty energizes the nation. In the Philippines, authoritarianism holds the nation back. President Obama touts “liberty and hope” whilst President Aquino touts libel laws. That difference explains why President Aquino sees jailing Arroyo as a good governance initiative but fails to see FOI in the same light, with the same sense of urgency.

    • November 13, 2012 at 11:27 am
      ricelander

      …but fails to see FOI in the same light, with the same sense of urgency.

      Fails to see? Hmm. He used to be one of the most vocal and strident supporters of FOI, so it could not be a case of failing to see.

      • November 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

        That’s an interesting point. So what happened? He knows that too much information will reveal too much bad going on in his administration? Or compadres are applying the heat saying no, no, we are not ready? It must be significant, because it would be a huge step forward for good governance, in line with what he expects to be his legacy. Cold feet. Like when going out with a blind date and you have to open the door.

        • November 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm
          ricelander

          You change perspective Joe when you are in power.
          And as somebody said, fighting for principle is easy; living up to it is difficult.

    • November 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm
      BrianB

      “It struck me that, although the Philippines modeled its governmental framework off of the United States, the notion of what democracy means is vastly different”

      Yes, indeed. Civil liberties is alien to our native culture, but here we are and all these pols are doing is backpedal.

      • November 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

        Yes, it is a culture of power and authority, inclined to squelch upstarts who speak freely.

        That is EXACTLY what this is all about. A free-speech internet collides with Philippine authoritarianism, in the guise of democracy.

        • November 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

          And President Aquino is demonstrating he is with the authoritarians. It causes me some dismay, considering the good will that put him into office.

  2. November 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm
    BrianB

    It’s so stupid. Kala ko lawyer din si Honasan. This violates the concept of free press. Free press is an individual right not a right of an organization. This is not like being a doctor na kelangan mo license.

  3. November 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm
    BrianB

    Stuart. It’s not Honasan’s ulterior motive or hidden purpose. He is obviously trying to define the basic right of free press.

    There is no angle, just Filipino stupidity.

  4. November 14, 2012 at 1:11 am
    manuelbuencamino

    Angela,

    Let’s humor Honasan. Let’s ask him how secs 2 and 3 of his marvelous law are supposed to work

    “Sec. 2. In view of the decriminalization of libel, there is need for practitioners of
    mass communication to impose upon themselves utmost discipline in the practice of
    their profession. Professional organizations shall prescribe ethical standards as well as
    rules and regulations in the practice of their profession. Penalties for their erring
    members shall also be prescribed. Professional organizations must be registered with
    the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”

    “Sec. 3. Practitioners of mass communication must be members of registered
    professional organizations. No mass media practitioner can practice his/her profession
    unless he/she is a member of the registered professional organization.”

    What is Honasan’s definition of “practitioners of mass communications”? Is a practitioner of mass communications anyone who uses media capable of mass communication? Or is a practitioner of mass communications one who is read/heard/viewed by many? How many is many, how massive is the mass supposed to be in mass communications?

    Is Ann Curtis with over a million Tweeter followers a practitioner of mass communications? If so then what SEC registered professional organization should she join? Are priests and preachers who report and editorialize on the word of god and the affairs of man by means of pulpit, print, radio, and television practitioners of mass media? Are speakers at rallies practitioners of mass communications? How about advertising companies? What SEC registered professional organization should they join?

    By the way, what does Honasan mean by professional organization? What does he mean by “practice his/her profession”? Does making side money from blogging, tweeting make one a professional? What is the difference between a hobby, serious or otherwise, from a profession, full or part-time? What is the difference between an amateur and a professional, is it in the way he does the work as in amateurish vs. professional?

    Can anyone who avails of media capable of mass communications establish a professional organization and register it with the SEC or does he have to prove first that he has a mass following? And that brings us back to what is the mass in mass. Nevertheless, can anyone who establishes a professional organization write his own set of ethical standards, rules and regulations, and prescribe penalties for violations by members? Can he charge for admission and membership dues? What will it take to be registered with the SEC?

    Will there be a regulatory body to oversee said professional organizations? What will be its duties and powers? Will the regulatory body be an NGO or will it be governmental? If governmental, under what department?

    I asked the above questions because sec 4 of Honasan’s law says “The Department of Justice shall, within ninety (9O) days from the effectivity of this Act, issue the necessary rules and regulations for the efficient and effective implementation of this Act”.

    That means Honasan, the author, is leaving everything, including the definition of terms to the DOJ. So what we have here is an author who has an idea for a story, complete with a title, but the actual story will be written for him by someone else. What the fuck, I wouldn’t smoke whatever he is smoking even if he paid me to do it.

    • November 14, 2012 at 4:27 am

      Very excellent set of questions. You inspire me to think, which is a sure path to chaos. The good Senator must distinguish between the individual and the medium. The internet is a mass medium, largely unregulated, and it is a medium for individual, private expression. And shades of gray in between. If he unduly constrains the medium, he unduly constrains individual expression. Constitutional challenge. This legislation is a dog. Like the libel provision. Another case of ugly authoritarianism being overlayed atop freedom of expression by people who simply do not grasp that it is freedom of expression that energizes discovery, self-discovery and accomplishment.

      Not only is it a dog, it is a mangy, flea ridden, stinking dog.

      • November 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

        ugly authoritarianism indeed!

    • November 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      haha manuel, ang saya!

  5. November 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    BrianB

    Palagay ko di lang nya gets yung “free press”. Paningin nya press (i.e. Inquirer, GMA7) that is free.

    • November 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      actually, brianb, i think it’s of a piece with the attempted rewriting of martial law history. as in it was no bed of roses or bed of nails. i think merong agenda, some kinda authoritarianism sa ikauunlad ng bayan, but likely in a federalist set-up, so watch out for the bangsamoro federal experiment which will require chacha, i bet.

      • November 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm
        BrianB

        sorry but to me this conspiracy theory doesn’t sound feasible in a land dependent on outsourcing and ofws.

        • November 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm

          i’m not calling it a “conspiracy”. yet. agenda pa lang. enrile has been calling for chacha, and he likes the bangsamoro prospect. and we know naman where honasan’s loyalties lie. outsourcing and ofws would be accommodated of course.

          • November 15, 2012 at 1:10 am
            BrianBro

            There is no trend towards authoritarianism. You do not feel it in the streets at all.

            Baka ayaw lang masayang campaign money nila ng dahillang sa mga mumunting bloggers.

      • November 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm
        joji-Diehard Pnoy

        angie :-) i think youre on the right track, most probably after the 2013 elections and the finalization of the framework Agreement, i predict enrile-belmonte will revive the Con-Ass to push for federalizatin issue, while M. Leonen is on the move to SC, unless LP big-wigs and the Yellow army will oppose it

  6. November 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    In General Comment No. 34 (102nd session, Geneva, 11-29 July 2011), the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) provided guidance for the interpretation and observance of the said Article 19.

    It emphasized that no restriction is allowed on grounds not specified in Article 19 (3). If any restriction is at all imposed, it must conform to “the strict tests of necessity and proportionality” and “may not put in jeopardy the right itself.”

    Right of reply, monkey wrench
    to Freedom of Information bill by Atty. Nepo Malaluan http://pcij.org/blog/2012/11/26/right-of-reply-monkey-wrench-to-freedom-of-information-bill

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