Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. unwittingly said something at odds with what his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been saying since he came to power in 2016.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is expected to promote international understanding and defend Philippine sovereignty. It is also tasked with protecting Filipinos abroad. In its dealings with other countries, it is of course assumed that the DFA will enhance and defend Philippine interests through diplomatic means. But equally important is its affirmation in word and deed of the value and need for the country to honor its international commitments to human, civil and political rights.
If he’s serious about it, Makati Congressman Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s bill amending the libel law is something journalists should be able live with, even if only temporarily.
Locsin’s amendment to Article 354 of the Revised Penal code, which defines libel and punishes it with prison terms, would make voluntary publication of a reply from someone who believes himself aggrieved by the media — or the media offender’s retraction of any suggestion or implication of wrongdoing — a guarantee against being sued for libel.