House body wants amendment to free speech

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — Free speech is no longer absolute under a constitutional amendment proposed by a group of lawmakers.

They want to protect only the "responsible exercise" of free speech and expression as there has been "so much abuse" of this provision.

"In the Bill of Rights, we see everything there to be acceptable, except Article 3, Section 4 (freedom of speech)," Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro (2nd district) said Tuesday during the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments' hearing on the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

A subcommittee proposed to reword the provision to read, "No law shall be passed abridging the 'responsible exercise' of freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

Castro said many believe the constitutional guarantee of free speech has been "unrestrained."

"There is so much abuse of this freedom," he added.

His comments come in the wake of the Securities and Exchange Commission's revocation of Rappler's license to operate, seen by some as the government's move against critical media. Malacañang has denied any involvement in the order.

Read more: SEC cancels Rappler's license to do business

The House is hearing proposed changes to the Constitution to establish a federal form of government, among others.

The amendments will be presented to a proposed Constituent Assembly, composed of senators and congressmen. The House committee is mulling a plebiscite on the proposed constitutional amendments simultaneous with the May 8 barangay elections.