Feared it to be prior restraint or a threat to freedom of expression and of the press, the popularly called “anti-selfie bill,” does not seem to get a smooth sail in the Lower House when it was remanded to the House Committee for further deliberation instead of winning the votes in the plenary. Had it not been for the media blitz that the bill sponsored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez got, the bill could have been a law by now tracing on how fast the bill was passed in second reading, according to reports.

What could have cautioned the lawmakers in the Lower House is the people’s cry that enacting the bill is unconstitutional. This is besides the bare fact that the bill is unpopular with the Philippines dubbed as one of the countries across the globe with most number of internet browsers. Netizens yell “Foul!” Citizens journalism is another that will be hardest hit by the punitive sanctions of the anti-selfie bill should it finally become a law.

HB Nos 4807 and 3548 or the “Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act” effectively captured the attention of the public when they were labeled “anti-selfie bill” by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate. For this, the bill which swiftly was passed in second reading was returned to the House committee for further scrutiny or possible revision and drafting an improved version for approval in third final reading.

Selfie is what netizens call taking one’s self portrait anywhere, while “groupie” if with another or more companions.” These photos are usually uploaded in online social media network. There are television news networks that are encouraging citizens journalism by sending their photos and videos caught either by their devices or the CCTV to the news network for whatever purpose they could not unlawfully serve. However, some others call the bill as anti-paparazzi. Although not categorically unlawful in the Philippines for now, the paparazzi hobby is not acceptable to those who have some “sensitive activities” to hide from public knowledge.

The proposed measures seek to “promote and protect the personal privacy of every person by preventing intrusion for commercial purposes, and enjoining everyone to respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of every person.” Is this not paparazzi usual does? They are the once that the bills intend to curtail and punish, as these prohibited acts in essence are what a number of paparazzi does. However, those who love doing selfies or groupies reacted. Why? Do they fear being covered by the punitive sanctions of the proposed law?
Truly, the bill has to be polished so as not to cut through the constitutional guarantee of a citizen’s right to freedom of expression and the constitutional right of freedom of the press. However, the introduction of these bills is also a warning to those who love to take selfies without regard to the privacy of people who could be captured by the camera lenses. Besides, who love to be used for one’s motive for profit or economic gain without his prior consent? This is what the bills purports to preclude.