For the first time, the Embassy of the United States in Manila has partnered with the Philippine Press Institute in conducting simultaneous programs in seven areas for the World Press Freedom Day.
On May 4, various programs will be conducted in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bulacan, Gen. Santos, Baguio, and Cagayan de Oro with PPI members in said areas at the helm. The main focus of each program is decriminalizing libel which is an offshoot of the two forums on the subject conducted at the University of the Philippines College of Law and Orchid Garden Suites organized by the PPI and the Philippine Press Council. The third leg should build on initiatives from the two forums in providing venues to further discuss libel and other topics that affect the media industry.
Other topics such as the freedom of information act, killings of journalists, ethics, media accountability, right of reply, and press freedom are a host of media-related subjects that can be chosen by each area as attendant or accompanying segment for its own program.
The World Press Freedom Day activity is the first regional initiative following the 16th National Press Forum from April 23 to 24 at Traders Hotel Manila, which among other topics, also discussed libel in the industry forum.
The U.S. Embassy found it an advantage to be conducting the programs in the areas that have American Corners in De La Salle University-Manila, St. Louis University in Baguio, University of San Carlos in Cebu, Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, and Ateneo de Davao University which are venues for the simultaneous celebrations. Bulacan will have Bulacan State University and Notre Dame University in Gen. Santos as partner-universities.
In Manila, U.S. Embassy press and information officer Tina Malone will give the opening remarks.
On January 31 this year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) released a resolution declaring the country’s libel law discordant with the provision in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that upholds free expression as a right. The Philippine is the lone signatory of the international protocol in Southeast Asia. The Committee holds the country’s dated and draconian criminal libel law “incompatible with Article 19, paragraph 3 of the ICCPR” or freedom of expression.
( First posted at www.philpressintitute.com)