Mass Media Laws and Regulations of the Philippines

Article excerpt

Mass Media Laws and Regulations of the Philippines, 2d ed. Luis V. Teodoro Jr. and Rosalinda V. Kabatay. Singapore: Asian Media Information and Communication Centre, 2001. 490 pp. $25 pbk.

When asked to name a country showcasing adoption of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abroad, few journalism and mass communication scholars will likely mention the Philippines. Even those media law scholars with a sophisticated international and comparative outlook have difficulty tracing the freespeech pedigree of the Philippines directly to the U.S. Constitution. This should come as little surprise because the Southeast Asian nation is indelibly etched in their memory for its "people's power" revolution that overthrew President Ferdinando Marcos's authoritarian regime in 1986.

Mass Media Laws and Regulations of the Philippines shows how pervasive U.S. constitutional law has been in its impact on freedom of speech and the press there. Professor Luis V. Teodoro Jr. of the University of the Philippines and Professor Rosalinda V. Kabatay of the University of Asia and the Pacific in Manila report the free-expression guarantee to the Philippine Constitution came as the result of U.S. President William McKinley's Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission in 1900.

Teodoro and Kabatay focus on a number of primary and secondary laws, as well as the constitutional clauses, affecting the Philippine media. The term "media" encompasses newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, film, advertising, and book publishing, as well as the Internet, cell phones, and telecommunication.

The authors provide the requisite overview of the nation's law and judicial system, freedom of expression, and the press, before placing freedom of expression in constitutional perspective by highlighting several provisions of the Philippine Constitution, including those on privacy and the right to information. They pay close attention to the penal and civil codes that affect the Philippine media when national security, reputation, or privacy collide with news reporting. Likewise, they duly note other statutes with media implications such as the nation's shield, copyright, election, and advertising laws. The authors consider the Philippine "shield law" more expansive than the journalist's privilege in American law because the Philippine law protects journalists from compelled disclosure of their sources "unless the court of a House or Committee of Congress finds that such revelations are demanded by the security of the State."

Especially noteworthy is the book's succinct discourse on the statutory protection of the school press in the Philippines. The Campus Journalism Act of 1991, which reflects the Philippine government's avowed commitment "to promote the development and growth of campus journalism" and the Philippine Supreme Court's liberal interpretation of the law, stand in sharp contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court's constrictive decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988), in which school officials were given considerable authority over school-- sponsored expressive activities. …