Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. filed Senate Bill No. 448, which would prevent the media from “negative-tagging” or discriminating against based on religion or ethnicity.

Before the Senate adjourned sine die this week, Revilla filed the bill prohibiting the media from using denotations of religious, regional, cultural and ethnic affiliation to describe persons who are suspected or convicted of crimes .

“Marahil ay nakarinig na kayo ng mga balitang naglalaman ng mga ganitong pagturing: ‘Muslim na terorista’, ‘mandurukot na Mangyan’, ‘Tausug na pirata’. Ang mga ganitong pagbabalita sa media ay hindi nakakatulong sa pagpapalaganap ng national healing at national unity,” Revilla, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, explained during his sponsorship speech last Wednesday.

“Sa panukalang ito, sinisiguro nating napapangalagaan ang karapatang-pantao ng lahat, kahit pa mga suspek o convicts ang mga ito. We wish to abolish religiously and culturally-biased practices in our society,” he added.
He wished that the initiative will “contribute and result in increased positive social space and understanding between and among Filipinos towards a culturally sensitive, fair, and lasting peace and development in the country.”

One of the provisions of SB 448 is the prohibition of any person to use the words that would denote religious, regional or ethnic affiliation in print, radio, television, including cable television and/or any form of broadcast media to refer to or describe any person suspected of or convicted of a crime or any unlawful act.

For those who will be proven guilty, the bill penalizes the offender of arresto mayor, or imprisonment of one month to six months; a fine ranging from P1,000 to P10,000; or both, at the discretion of the court.
Nine senators signed the committee report on the bill. (RJ Espartinez)