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Philippine Senator Cites Assange, Seeks Widespread Journalist Protection

"Senator Miriam" Wants Law to Cover Bloggers and Online Journalists, And Many Others

A forceful, influential Senator from the Philippines is insisting that bloggers and online journalists be included in new legislation that aims to protect members of the media.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is seeking to add bloggers and online journalists to Senate Bill 455, which she is co-sponsoring, saying "there is no reason why only members of the broadcast and print media should be included in the proposed law. Due regard must also be given to practitioners of the digital media."

The Philippines has a vigorous press and a freedom of speech and assembly clause in its 1986 Constitution almost identical to that of the US First Amendment. Yet the country is rated abysmally by Reporters Without Frontiers and other media organizations, due to a tradition of silencing journalists (including numerous radio commentators) by execution-style killings carried out by small teams on motorcycles.

The country then became infamous late in 2009 with the Magindinao Massacre, in which an estimated 34 journalists were among 58 killed in a mass political killing in a remote province.

Santiago also specifically cited the ongoing travails of Julian Assange-a non-traditional journalist if there ever was one-as an example of someone who should be protected under the law.

Santiago also wishes to include photographers, writers, filmmakers and TV show producers, and even members of the public relations industry in the bill.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.