NUJP to Jinggoy: Drop proposal for journos’ board exams

Michael Josh Villanueva

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The proposed Magna Carta creates a council that administers regulatory exams for the accreditation of "professional journalists"

MANILA, Philippines – He’s authored several bills favorable to journalists, including one that aims to decriminalize libel and “address the spate of harassment suits experienced by the Philippine press,” but Senator Jinggoy Estrada may have gone overboard on his latest proposal.

His Senate Bill 380an act creating a Magna Carta for Journalists, proposes annual professional exams for those who want to be accredited media practitioners.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is calling on Estrada to withdraw the bill.

The NUJP said it “cannot subscribe to the notion of subjecting journalists to accreditation for purposes of regulating the profession; not by any state agency and no, not even through peer accreditation,” the organization said in a statement dated August 12.

Estrada’s bill, filed in July, seeks the creation of the Philippine Council for Journalists (PCJ), a body that will accredit journalists and administer the “Professional Journalist Examination.”

Journalists who fail or do not take the annual regulatory exam will be categorized as non-accredited journalists.

Accredited journalists are subject to the PCJ’s Code of Ethics and face sanctions if they violate the code. They are also “entitled all benefits and privileges that may be accorded to them by law, their employers and the PCJ.”

Non-accredited journalists will still be allowed to “exercise their rights and duties as journalists,” but won’t enjoy the same benefits and privileges as accredited practitioners.

The NUJP also called out the bill’s classification system for journalists calling it a, “frightening possibility.” It would potentially “see journalists, wittingly or unwittingly discriminating against each other.”

According to the proposal, the PCJ would be composed of the National Press Club, Philippine Press Institute, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Press Photographers of the Philippines, Manila Overseas Press Club, NUJP, Publisher’s Association of the Philippines, and the Federation of Provincial Press Club. 

The PCJ will also be tasked with looking after the welfare of journalists, ensuring they have security of tenure and are provided with a comprehensive benefits package that is at par with those in other industries.

Conducting annual training programs that are a prerequisite for accreditation.

While the NUJP welcomed the move to ensure the safety and welfare of the media practitioners, it fears provisions that would give employers even more leeway to reduce or even deprive non-accredited media staff of the wages and benefits due them.  

Estrada first proposed the Magna Carta for Journalists via Senate Bill 515 in 2007. 

Back then he said the law was intended to “protect journalists from all forms of harassments and government spying to give media practitioners the freedom to expose corruption in society.”

The new proposed Magna Carta for Journalists includes a clause that deals with the security and protection of journalists.

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