Rep. Sol Aragones proposed Magna Carta for Journalists

Journalism and mass communication graduates or anyone who want to join the media industry can do so if they will pass the examination to be given under the proposed "Magna Carta for Journalists."

Under the proposed magna carta authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), journalists will be classified as accredited and non-accredited. 

Rodriguez, author of House Bill 2550, said aspiring journalists or media practitioners will have to take and pass the examination before they can be considered as "accredited journalist."

The bill will create the Professional Journalist Examination and the Philippine Council for Journalists, which will handle the examination for radio, television, print and photography.

Those who will not pass the examination will get the tag of "non-accredited journalists" but can still join any media outfits. "They will still be allowed to exercise their duties and rights as journalists and enjoy only those benefits and privileges accorded to them by their employers," Rodriguez said.

Exempted from the examination are journalists who have been in the practice for 10 years already.

Rodriguez said the objective of the bill is to ensure a living wage, an atmosphere conducive to productive journalism work, reiterate the value of ethics, provide for development programs that will deepen the practice of their profession, and promote the defense and protection of freedom and human rights of journalists and their organizations.

"Journalists, as purveyors of truth, risk their life and limb in order to make people aware of the local, national and international events. They provide the essential vehicle for the exchange of ideas between cultures and nations. Hence, the approval of this measure is earnestly sought," Rodriguez said.

Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) also filed House Bill 2568 which seeks to promote freedom of information by ensuring that all requests made by media outfits and journalists are acted upon promptly, within a period of five business days. 

Aragones' bill also demands a written explanation from the concerned government office to clarify why the request is unfavorably acted upon.

"The assumption is that all records in the custody or possession of a public body should be open to public scrutiny. Any public body that asserts that a record is exempt from disclosure has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that it is exempt," Aragones said.

The measure to be known as the "Magna Carta for Journalists Act of 2013," likewise proposes the creation of a 'Journalist Welfare Fund' that aids journalists in distress.

The financial assistance ranges from P10,000.00 but not more than P200,000.00 for the temporary or permanent incapacity, or death of a journalist by reason of his profession; and for journalists in distress, for any condition brought about by his job.

Moreover, the bill adopts and incorporates the Journalist's Code of Ethics formulated by the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club.