Bill seeks to end discrimination vs Muslims in media reports
MANILA -- A lawmaker has filed a bill prohibiting the media of using labels to describe the religion or ethnicity of criminal suspects.
"It may be said that there is already the practice in media of labeling criminal suspects according to their religious or ethnic culture; thus they are described as Muslim terrorists or Muslim bandits which smacks of being highly discriminatory," Lanao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Pangalian Balindong said.
House Bill 1447 prohibits the use of “Muslim” or “Christian” to describe suspects. Balindong said the manner of reporting from media entities has become offensively biased even if the suspect has yet to be proven guilty.
He said labels contribute to the mindset against Muslims.
"Why then is our media doing the same to our Muslim countrymen? Indeed, our Muslim brothers are a minority among the Filipino majority, but should be treated with the same respect and privileges as any other Batangueño, Visayan or other Filipino citizen," Balindong said.
The bill prohibits any person to use in mass media any word that would denote religious, regional or ethnic affiliation to describe any person suspected of or convicted for having committed criminal or unlawful acts.
The person found guilty of this will face imprisonment of not less than six months or a fine of not more than P10,000 or both at the discretion of the courts.
If the violator is the editor-in-chief in the case of print media and the news editor in the case of broadcast media and other forms of mass media, a fine of not lower than P50,000 shall be imposed.
If a juridical entity is a violator of this Act, a fine not lower than P50,000 shall be imposed for every violation and the penalties shall be doubled for the second and succeeding offenses as provided under the bill.