Sep 26, 2019

More than 70 years ago, Republic Act No. 53 otherwise known as “The Sotto Law,” was made to protect the journalist’s privilege not to reveal their sources except when the court, a house, or a committee of Congress finds that the revelation is demanded for the security of the state. 

Its name came from the law’s author, Sen. Vicente Sotto, who is the late grandfather of Senate president Vicente Sotto III. The law previously caters only to journalists in the print media as it was passed during which online media was still non-existent. 

But because of the changes in the media industry, most news agencies now operate online which is not covered under the law. 

On Aug. 30, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an amendment under Republic Act No. 11458, expanding its protection to cover broadcast journalists and online news agencies. 

The expanded law states that “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.”

With this amendment, even online news publications will have the right not to disclose their sources, unless for the interest of national security. 

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday during a press conference, the amendment meant the government respects press freedom. 

“By signing this law, the President has reinforced jurisprudence on the matter which pronounces that, ‘[t]he sanctity of a newsman’s source of information is not only intended to protect a newsman but also the source of his information. When a person transmits confidential information to a newsman, he is exercising his freedom of speech on condition of anonymity,’”  said Panelo. 


Header photo courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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TAGS: broadcast media journalists Law online media Sotto law