Speaker not keen on ‘restrictive’ rules on media – Evardone

Published September 24, 2018, 4:30 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ellson Quismorio

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may not be keen on adopting a set of “restrictive” media coverage rules pitched during the time of her predecessor, Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Rep. Ben Evardone (via Google Image| Manila Bulletin)
Rep. Ben Evardone (via Google Image| Manila Bulletin)

Thus, said newly-installed Committee on Public Information chairman, Eastern Samar lone district Rep. Ben Evardone Monday at the Ugnayan News Forum at the House of Representatives even as he himself aired reservations on the proposed in-house media guidelines. During the forum, Evardone revealed that Antipolo City 1st District Rep. Chiqui Roa-Puno filed a resolution last September 4 (House Resolution No. 2149), seeking the adoption of the “Proposed Rules for Media Coverage of the House of Representatives.”

“Basta ako hindi ako papayag na ikahon yung mga reporters. Palagay ko yung leadership rin hindi papaya (As for me, I won’t allow reporters to be ‘boxed’ [given rigid coverage rules]. I think the leadership won’t allow it either.),” Evardone said, referring to Pampanga 2nd district representative and former president Arroyo.

“Having guidelines isn’t bad, but not to the point that it will prevent you in your efforts to secure information, data,” Evardone, who once was a reporter in Congress, said.

Roa-Puno in a message to reporters claimed that that the draft rules presented to media during Alvarez’s time have already been revised.

“The current version went through consultations even with media members and please be assured it does not in any way curtail press freedom. As a media practitioner, I made sure of it,” she said, adding that the purpose of her measure was to promote “the safety of both members and media members and also to safeguard order and security within the house.”

As per HR No.2149, the draft guidelines were “patterned after the rules of the House of Representatives of the United States of America and various parliaments of nations that rank highest in the press freedom index, such as the Norwegian Storting and the Swedish Rikstag.”

Evardone said the guidelines makes things difficult for foreign journalists and even impromptu relievers of local House beat reporters since they will be required to produce Philippine Embassy clearance and media outlet accreditation, respectively, before they are allowed to cover the Lower Chamber.

Evardone said Roa-Puno had approached Speaker Arroyo on the proposed rules and the latter apparently advised her to go through the process, thus resulting to her filing of a measure.

The Public Information panel chair guaranteed that he would hear House reporters’ comments first before moving forward with the proposal.