Kabataan Party Rep. Mong PalatinoThe controversial Right of Reply Bill would affect bloggers, texters, and iPod users, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino said as he warned that it could lead to Internet censorship.

He also called on bloggers, netizens, texters and concerned youth to register their opposition to the “apparent railroading of the bill in Congress.”

Palatino said that during his interpellation on the Right of Reply Bill, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, sponsor of the bill, admitted that HB 3306 would also cover websites, emails, Internet social networking sites, and other electronic devices.

Section 1 of the bill states:

All persons natural or judicial who are accused directly or indirectly of committing, having committed, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to charges or criticisms published in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites or through any electronic device.

“Does this mean that whenever a criticism is published in these venues a person can use the Right of Reply to compel a blogger or moderator of a social networking site to publish a space or a reply for that person? Or when an individual decides to copy or re-post an article from a news website in his or her personal blog, and in the future the said article becomes a subject of this Right of Reply, will he or she be sanctioned or fined also?” Palatino asked.

He also questioned the inclusion of ‘any electronic device’ in the bill.

“Again, this would affect more than 60 million mobile phone users and iPod owners in the country. This is totally out of bounds and not to mention virtually impossible to apply. Kung may ka-text ako at nagreklamo siya sa text ko, will I be compelled to publish his reply in my mobile phone? I simply find it incredible and idiotic.”

Palatino said that he would oppose the Right of Reply Bill because it subdues freedom of the press and the general public’s freedom of speech and expression. He said he is not amenable even to a “watered down” version of the bill because it merely “renders the Right of Reply pointless.”

(Photo from Sheenah Tan)