As the House plenary continues its marathon deliberation of Resolution of Both House No. 1 (RHB 1) this week, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon took the floor on Monday night to question proposed amendments in the 1987 Constitution which concerns mass media and advertising.
“It is important to highlight that RHB 1 is attempting to amend pertinent portions of the Constitution that affects mass media and advertising, which play an important role in shaping Filipino culture,” Ridon said.
In the plenary hearing on Monday night, Ridon grilled Rep. Rodel Batocabe – the sponsor of the legislation – and reminded him of the intention of the 1986 Constitutional Commission in including restrictions on foreign ownership of mass media and advertising.
“First of all, Item No. 7 of RHB 1 opens the ownership and management of mass media and the advertising industry to legislative revision. We can even go as far as saying that this revision may indeed allow greater if not total foreign control and ownership of mass media and advertising,” Ridon told Batocabe.
The youth legislator told the sponsor that amending paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article XVI, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution poses the danger of having a mass media and advertising industry that is fully owned and controlled by foreigners.
Ridon reminded Batocabe that this is exactly the fear of the framers of the Constitution.
“As debated by members of the Constitutional Commission (ConCom), this provision is in recognition of the need to change the orientation of mass media and advertising, which at that time highly valued the Western and urban lifestyle, and consequently, inculcated consumerism and strong urban bias, elitism and undue favor to foreign products,” Ridon said.
He also quoted a portion of the Proceedings of the 1986 ConCom which said, “Mass media and advertising have a very high impact on ‘value orientation’ and our national leadership has embarked on such a crusade – a reorientation of the values of the Filipino people – and media, particularly advertising, have a very important role in the molding of the kind of orientation and national consciousness that people must have. If we cannot liberate ourselves from this kind of control, then we will never get started to what we envision to be a self-reliant and independent country.”
The youth legislator also argued that the reason why a 30% foreign equity limit was placed on media and advertising is because of the argument that these industries are not capital intensive, but “talent intensive.”
“As the ConCom debates point out, we shouldn’t let our local talents be slaves to foreign bosses, just because they had the capital to run a media company. Given the importance of media and advertising in supposedly upholding Filipino values, foreign equity limits were shoved to a minimum—with 10% on TV, 20% on radio and no possible ownership, whatsoever on other forms of broadcast media,” Ridon explained.
“If passed, charter change will twist this principle to grossly favor foreign interests. In effect, foreign entities will be allowed to own more than 30 percent in media and advertising, granting them more opportunities to lure our minds to be more consumerist, materialistic, to favor their products more than our own, and by consequence, shove our sense of patriotism and love of country to the dustbins of history,” Ridon told the House plenary.
The plenary debates on RHB 1 is expected to resume this afternoon, with Ridon again taking the floor to question the amendments to provisions concerning education.