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Protected by the Constitution

The constitutions of the Philippines have always assigned paramount importance to press freedom. The press in a democracy must be free from government interference. And the press must exert its force for public interest.

The constitution does not go into detail about how the press must serve public interest or the public good. The ideas and ideals of the news service have been grown from the practice of providing news and information that is important to people, to the communities served by the journalists who built up what became the press as an institution.

The value of free expression was upheld by the 1935 Constitution for the Commonwealth republic.  In 1987, the framers of the post-Marcos charter also enshrined these expressive freedoms: “No law shall abridge 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.”

No press law governs the practice of the press, no enumeration of obligations and responsibilities – as these are autonomous in their editorial power.

However, as no rights or freedoms are absolute, limitations are set for the common good. In the Philippines, laws on libel protect against defamation of one’s reputation or good name; privacy laws protects against intrusion or invasion of a person’s privacy.  The rape law prescribes the coverage of a victim of rape. And more recently, a new law checks media reporting on terror suspects.

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