Code of Professional Standards in Political Public Relations Sought
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) PASAY CITY, Philippines, Dec. 18 -- The Philippines House of Representatives (16th Congress) issued the following news release:
There is now a proposal in the House of Representatives for a statute setting professional standards for the practice of political public relations.
"We strongly support the campaign against corruption in all sectors and professions," Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Abante Mindanao Party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, authors of HB 3321, declared.
One of the main intents of the proposed Code of Professional Standards for the Practice of Political Public Relations (CPSPPP) is to discourage and expose to public censure the persons who corrupt the integrity of channels of communication or the processes of government, Rodriguez said.
HB 3321, referred to the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulations chaired by Rep. Andres D. Salvacion (3rd District, Leyte), also seeks to ensure that those engaged in political public relations conduct themselves professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public.
Likewise, the proposed Code seeks to encourage practitioners to improve their individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of their profession through continuing research and education, the authors stressed.
"This bill is based on the Code of Professional Standards for the Practice of Public Relations adopted in 1988 by the Public Relations Society of America," the authors explained.
Noting the presence of Republic Act, 6713 which constitutes the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the Rodriguez bill would enhance the sustained campaign against corruption in public life.
HB 3321 defines Political Public Relations as those areas of public relations that relate to: (a) the counseling of political organizations, committees, candidates or potential candidates for public office and groups constituted for the purpose of influencing the vote on any ballot issue; (b) the counseling of holders of public office; (c) the management or direction of a political campaign for or against a candidate for public office, or for or against a ballot issue to be determined by voter approval or rejection;
(d) the practice of public relations on behalf of a client or an employer in connection with the client's or employer's relationships with any candidates or holders of public office, with the purpose of influencing legislation or government regulation or treatment of a client or employer, regardless of whether the public relations practitioner is a recognized lobbyist; and (e) the counseling of government bodies, or segments thereof, either domestic or foreign.
"A practitioner shall exemplify high standards of honesty and integrity while carrying out dual obligations to a client or employers and to the democratic process," the measure provides.
The authors underlined Sec. 6 of HB 3321 which states that: "A practitioner shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and shall act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which he or she is responsible."
Among the practices prohibited are those that tend to place representatives of media or government under any obligation to the practitioner or the practitioner's employer or client, which is in conflict with their obligations to media or government such as:
(a) the giving of gifts of more than nominal value; (b) any form of payment or compensation to a member of the media in order to obtain preferential or guaranteed news or editorial coverage in the medium; (c) any retainer or fee to a media employee or use of such employee if retained by a client or employer, where the circumstances are not fully disclosed to and accepted by the media employer; (d) Providing trips, for media representatives, that are unrelated to legitimate news interest; and (e) the use by a practitioner of an investment or loan or advertising commitment made by the practitioner or the practitioner's client or employer, to obtain preferential or guaranteed coverage in the medium.
However, the proposed Code "does not prohibit hosting media or government representatives at meals, cocktails or news functions and special events that are occasions for the exchange of news information or views, or the furtherance of understanding, which is part of the public relations functions," the bill states.
"Nor does it prohibit the bona fide press event or tour when media or government representatives are given the opportunity for an on-the-spot viewing of a newsworthy product, process or event in which the media or government representatives have a legitimate interest," the bill provides.
Furthermore, the authors clarified that "customary or reasonable hospitality has to be a matter of particular judgment in specific situations."
"In all of the said cases, however, it is or should be, understood that no preferential treatment or guarantees are expected or implied and that complete independence always is left to the media or government representatives," the bill added.
Under the measure, a practitioner shall be prepared to identify publicly the name of the client or employer on whose behalf any public communication is made. Likewise, a practitioner shall not use any individual or organization professing to serve or represent an announced cause, or professing to be independent or unbiased, but actually serving another undisclosed interest.
Among other pertinent and salient provisions, Section 25 (Sanctions) provides that: "Without prejudice to prosecution under existing criminal laws, practitioners who violate any provision of this Code shall be liable for damages."
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