Being discussed in the congressional hearings is the issue on the budget for travel of the office of the speaker of the lower house. The alleged huge travel budget was raised in a commentary by one Jeffry Celiz, a broadcaster of Sonshine Media Network, Inc. (SMNI) a television network that was granted congressional franchise believed to be owned by Apollo Carreon Quiboloy albeit denials of such ownership. The commentator who disclosed the travel budget which purportedly amounted to 1.8 billion pesos was invited by the lower house to shed light on such news regarding the huge travel budget that was disclosed in his commentary program.

The resource person refused to reveal the identity of his source on the basis of Republic Act 53 known as the Sotto Law or the Press Freedom Law that protects journalists from being compelled to reveal the name of their news sources. The said law affords journalists to maintain the safety of their news sources from all forms of pressure or harassment that the news subjects might take against the news sources. The commentator consistently insists that he is protected by said law and he is bounden to protect his news sources. He also cited his constitutional right under the bill of rights and the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.

Indeed the travel budget is a matter of public interest as it is source from taxpayers’ money. What appears to be a concern on the part of the office of the house speaker is its negative repercussions on the integrity and credibility of the lower house. The commentary is being connected to the political squabble between the house speaker and the vice president who are both positioning for the upcoming presidential derby. The attacks on the house speaker is being construed by the house members as emanating from the former president and his daughter vice president as close allies of pastor Apollo Carreon Quiboloy.
In the course of the house investigation, the commentator disclosed that the issue of that huge travel budget was leaked by a senate insider. The revelation stirred varied reactions from the senators with the outright denial by the senate president. The senate urged the lower house to continue its investigation. Meanwhile, the lower house made efforts to compel the commentator to name his source or else he would be cited in contempt and detained.

The threat of being cited for contempt and detention did not deter the commentator, standing his ground to protect his source and protect his rights as a journalist as well as other journalists from revealing their news sources. He insisted that what he raised was in the form of a question as to the truth or falsity of the alleged leaked information. The lower house had already retorted with its report that the travel expenses incurred by the office of the speaker of the house of representatives this year is about 4.347 million pesos. That would settle the issue without pressing the commentator to reveal the name of his news sources.

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