The Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP), an organization of the country’s photojournalists, expressed apprehension over the passage this week of House Bill 4807 titled “An Act To Provide Protection From Personal Intrusion for Commercial Purposes.”
“It would seem that people from the media and journalists can be targets of the proposed measure,” said Mike Alquinto, PCP chairman.
The proposed measure claims to “curb acts of trespassing and other intrusions on personal privacy committed by any person in order to capture visual or sound impressions of an individual, with intent to gain or profit.”
The bill also provides that “the fact that no visual image… was actually sold for gain or profit shall not be available as a defense.”
Alquinto said the phrase “intent to gain or profit” should be clearly defined because media outfits “are basically for profit organizations.”
“There must be clear provisions that specify that news gathering must be exempted from this section,” Alquinto said.
Alquinto said the provisions of the proposed measure should not apply to news gathering, adding that “provisions of the law can be used to target enterprising journalists.”
“Our apprehension is based on the premise that the act being made punishable by this proposed measure is not clearly defined to the point that other acts can be considered unlawful by virtue of the statute,” Alquinto said.
He said the proposed measure can become a tool for “unwilling public figures” to suppress press freedom.
“We maintain that the Philippine Constitution already guarantees the right to privacy. A person can claim protection even without this proposed law. Jurisprudence has settled that there are exceptions to the right to privacy which exceptions are not specified in this bill,” Alquinto said.
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Photo by Gigie Cruz-Sy/PCP