Will fake news be considered ‘responsible’ speech?

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Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano expressed strong objections to the proposal to insert the phrase “responsible exercise” into the free speech provision of the proposed Federal Constitution.

“How can you define responsible? Ano ba yung responsible sa kanila? Yung fake news and propaganda ang responsible? Pag sinabi mong responsible, yung pabor sa kanila,” the Magnificent 7 lawmaker said.

He was reacting to the proposal of a subcommittee of the House committee on constitutional amendments to add a qualifier to the provision on free speech, expression and of the press in the new federal Constitution.

Under the proposal, Article III Section 4 shall read, “No law shall be passed abridging the RESPONSIBLE EXERCISE OF THE freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

The subcommittee issued a justification for the proposed amendment:

“According to the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, in their position paper dated October 10, 2017, the right to free speech, or any right enshrined in the Bill of Rights, comes with an equal burden of responsibly exercising the same. It further said that the exercise of one’s rights must be done with good faith and reasonable care,” it said.

The House panel is debating proposed changes to the Constitution based on the work of four subcommittees that prepared a section-by-section revision of the Charter.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chairman of the committee, said the final draft, once completed by his committee, would serve as the “guide” to Congress members once they have convened into a constituent assembly.