“This proposal is as dangerous as it is, to put it as plainly as possible, stupid.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed the proposal of President Duterte’s allies in Congress to restrain the exercise of rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
During the hearing of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Jan. 16, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro disclosed that the Committee wants to change Article 3, Section 4 (freedom of speech) of the 1987 Constitution to read:
“No law shall be passed abridging the ‘responsible exercise’ of freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The proposed amendment inserts the phrase “responsible exercise of” to Article 3, Section 4, making the freedom of speech, expression, and of the press conditional on what the government would determine as “responsible exercise.”
Castro was quoted as saying, “[t]his time, if you go around, there is so much abuse of this freedom, they think it is unrestrained.”
“This proposal is as dangerous as it is, to put it as plainly as possible, stupid,” the NUJP said in a statement. “It would, in effect, enshrine prior restraint as part of the basic law of the land and spell the end of the inalienable rights and freedoms this particular provision seeks to protect.”
“If those supposed to protect and promote our most basic liberties can deign to snatch these away through such devious means, it is not farfetched to suspect that they intend to turn the Constitution into an abomination to enslave, not free, much less protect us,” the NUJP added.
The group called on all independent Filipino journalists and media groups, and on all citizens who cherish freedom to come together and discuss how they can prevent “this brazen attempt to hijack democracy.”
This afternoon, the House Representatives adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 9, which seeks to constitute the Senate and the House into a constituent assembly “to propose amendments to or revision of the Philippine Constitution.” .