Monday, March 09, 2009

The Right of Reply Bill shelved

The latest news I could find on the Right of Reply Bill is that it has been shelved. Previously, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde had said that if the Right of Reply Bill did get through Congress, the President would veto the bill. In a recent statement, Remonde was also reported to have said that Malacanang had welcomed the shelving of the bill.

It's tempting to say that the President's announcement through the Press Secretary of plans to veto the bill and the consequent shelving of the bill were somehow related. One could probably say that this is a show of how Malacanang flexed its muscles to protect press freedom, even when that freedom has been used to fire broadsides against her administration.

Then again, with charges of corruption against the Arroyo Administration being regular fodder for news articles and especially columns, one wonders if the current occupant of Malacanang can really be embarassed into reforming or resigning.

Certainly, news of Hello Garci, the NBN ZTE deal, the P728 fund scam, and other controveries that landed big time in frontpages and the first gaps of the early evening news broadcasts had spurred moves to impeach her and all of these failed.

Even the so-called Oakwood Mutiny which was followed up by the Manila Peninsula siege didn't succeed in ousting President Arroyo.

On one hand, it is tempting to say that the Arroyo Administration believes so much in its invulnerability to any type of attack that it can take whatever the press can dish out. Or perhaps others who still believe in the Arroyo Administration, for one reason or another, will say that this is an example of the Administration's statesmanship or whatever spiffified word you can give it.

Personally, I prefer the view that this is Malacanang's way of saying that the Fourth Estate's efforts at exposing corruption is futile if the intent is to stop it completely. The equivalent of a child saying, "Isakay mo pa lolo mo!"
Moreover, I really don't think Malacanang needs the Right to Reply to air its side on any issue.
It already has 3 televisions stations, radio stations, and several publications. It has all the air time and space it needs!

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