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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 30, 2019
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OPINIONS

A bill for journalists

Ninfa Leonardia

Gas blast in The Hague.

Dam bursts in Brazil.

Flash floods in Agusan.

Mudslide in Peru.

Terrorist attack in Burkina.

Cathedral bombed in Sulu.

What has the New Year brought us, and what is this world coming to?

***

It is really nerve-wracking to read the news nowadays. It seems as if tragedies, accidents, killings and natural calamities are now so common that one is never sure if one’s environment is safe enough for one’s existence. Aside from the man-made or caused disturbances, Nature seems to on her own rampage. What have we done to our environment to make it so harsh on us now? Nature used to be so good to us, we used to refer to her as Mother Nature. Has she disowned us at last?

***

Meanwhile our President has ordered an all-out war on terrorists, who, I take to mean, those people who commit crimes like the recent bombing of a cathedral in Jolo where more than 20 were killed and 78 were wounded. All the victims were massgoers as it was a Sunday, and the Cathedral was full. Whoever planned the dastardly deed must have calculated the number of human beings he or they would kill, maim, or injure seriously.

***

A news item said the President was angry and disappointed over the attack on the cathedral. Disappointed at whom? Some people I know say the culprits could have taken a cue from his own attitude towards bishops and priests, which was why they felt they had immunity in perpetrating it. Torrents of cuss words reportedly poured out of his mouth in describing the one responsible for the attack. Even the Holy Father, Pope Francis spoke out about the incident and called for prayers worldwide for the victims.

***

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has approved the bill lowering the age of criminality to 12 years old. Well, that is not as bad as the former proposal of nine years old, but me, I still believe it should be 13, which classifies the person as a teenager, and no longer a child, but, least, we should give thanks for small blessings, that is, their having listened to the clamor against the earlier plan to set it at nine.

***

But while the House was wrangling over the age of criminality, it seems the Senate was busy on something else, and that was sneaking in, I mean, inserting a bonanza for its members in the amount of P190 BILLION, that appeared very much like pork to onlookers! No wonder it took such a long time for them to approve that via so-called “amendments”. No matter by what name they call it, the amounts supposedly inserted, still smell like “pork” to the public.

***

An item that should be of great interest to journalists, is the one that say a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would make the venue of hearings on libel cases accessible to them. That is, indeed, a very relevant law, if passed, because the present ones on the crime covering written or oral libel has encouraged harassment of those accused. This has been the practice, especially of influential people, who file their charges against writers, radio announcers, and media officials in places not easily accessible to the respondents. Journalists all over the country should urge their representatives to support such a bill.

***

But one measure that may not get much opposition is the one now in the Senate that proposes to raise taxes on cigarets. The only ones who may complain against it are the members of the smoking community, who, not only cause damage to their own health, but also to those around them, who, become victims of the so-called second-hand smoke. Maybe, the bill, if or when approved and passed into law, may lead to the reduction of smokers, or, at least, the lessening of the number of cigarets they light up every single day.*

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