House committee approves “National Press Freedom Day” bill

The House committee on public information chaired by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Partylist, BH) approved House Bill 3702 declaring August 30 of every year as "Marcelo H. Del Pilar National Press Freedom Day."

Authored by Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), the bill recognizes the vital role of the press in nation building and aims to raise public awareness about press freedom. Likewise, it seeks to encourage members of the press to report matters of public interest regardless of the entities or persons that may be offended in the process.

The holiday also honors Marcelo H. Del Pilar, recognizing him as the father of Philippine journalism. Del Pilar was a key figure during the struggle against Spanish occupation, and one of the leaders of the Philippine Propaganda Movement. He became the editor-in-chief of La Solidaridad, the newspaper of Filipino propagandists who pushed for the Philippines to become a province of Spain and afford the citizens the same rights with those in the mainland.

He is a national hero worthy of emulation for his patriotism, bravery and intelligence as exemplified by his works as a lawyer, as a revolutionary and as a propagandist, said Sy-Alvarado.

Sy-Alvarado said dedicating August 30, Del Pilar's date of birth, to national press freedom shows the world that the country recognizes and respects freedom of the press, as enshrined in Section 4, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Philippine Constitution. This includes the right to speak and write, and the right to be protected from threats, intimidation and violence.

The bill originally declared August 30 as Marcelo H. Del Pilar National Responsible Press Freedom Day. Upon further fine-tuning, the committee voted to omit the qualifier responsible.

It's a very important amendment. What we're celebrating is press freedom, not just 'responsible.' Delikado na 'yon. There might be unintended consequences to that, stressed Rep. Antonio Tinio (Party List - ACT TEACHERS) during the committee meeting.

The bill mandates all heads of government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, local government units and private-sector employers to encourage and afford sufficient time and opportunity for employees to engage and participate in any activity conducted within the premises of their establishments to celebrate the holiday.

The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in coordination with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, and other government organizations are mandated to lead public and private school communities in organizing consciousness-raising activities.

The bill aims to increase knowledge and awareness among students in all levels on the importance of press responsibility, freedom of the press, and ways to protect press people from threats, intimidation, and violence.

Source: House of Representatives

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