Ensure media workers’ safety

The least we could do is to better protect our journalists so they can truly feel safe and free to deliver essential news and even hard-hitting commentaries.

Whether through print, television, radio, or social platforms, our media workers have always played a critical part in shaping the history of our nation. In the face of calamities, armed conflicts, the pandemic, and even attempts to silence them, our journalists have remained ever faithful to their role in ensuring the proper workings of democracy in our country.

Indeed, our legitimate media workers trudge day and night, amid various threats, just to provide the public with timely, accurate, and relevant information. Their dedication to public service is truly undeniable and losing one of them is a tragedy not only for the industry but for the entire country.

With their pivotal contributions to nation-building and in closing the gap between the government and the people, the least we could do is to better protect our journalists so they can truly feel safe and free to deliver essential news and even hard-hitting commentaries without having to look over their shoulders every time.

Thus, I once again appeal to our authorities, please protect the life and safety of every media worker. Let us properly listen to their concerns and provide measures that will make it less dangerous for them to perform their duty in our country.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte himself established the Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS during his administration to investigate media killings.

The PTFoMS is an inter-agency task force, composed of agencies such as the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and Presidential Communication and Operations Office, with a devoted mandate to safeguard media freedom by protecting the life, liberty and security of members of the press.

Regarding the reported media killings, the PTFoMS closely coordinated with the PNP and the Media Security Vanguards during investigations. Media Security Vanguards were PTFoMS Focal Persons composed of PNP’s Public Information Officers who served as the first line of defense of journalists across the country as they first receive and respond to all threats leveled against media personnel.

Most importantly, through the task force, media workers were able to secure a direct communication line with the Office of the President.

Meanwhile, apart from the safety of the members of our press, we must also promote their welfare and ensure that they receive just emoluments and added labor protection under the law commensurate to their hard work and invaluable contributions to the society.

In this regard, I have earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1183, or the proposed “Media and Entertainment Workers’ Welfare Act,” to provide enhanced protection, security and incentives for our media and entertainment workers through additional health insurance package, overtime and night differential pay, and other benefits.

The proposed measure requires a written contract signed between the media entity and the employee to guarantee utmost protection from unjust compensation and to ensure that our media workers’ rights and welfare are well protected and not neglected.

The bill also provides that, regardless of the nature of engagement, pay and related benefits of media and entertainment workers must not be lower than the minimum standards, as provided by relevant laws.

Meanwhile, the recent media killing has also highlighted the need for us to further ramp up our campaign against criminality. We should ensure that the gains made in the past in our fight against criminality, including illegal drugs and corruption, will not be put to waste in order to attain our goal of providing a safer and more comfortable life for all.

On top of all these, we are also still facing the perennial problem of poverty. Many of our fellow Filipinos are still mired in financial difficulties, exacerbated by the pandemic and other crisis situations.

Thus, I also continue to assist our struggling brothers and sisters nationwide.

Last Thursday, 20 October, I visited Mandaue City, Cebu and personally handed out relief to 919 flood victims there. The following day, I was in Malabon City to also personally spearhead the relief operation for 139 fire-hit households. No matter how small, I believe that every help we give to our distressed Filipinos could go a long way in encouraging them to rebuild their lives.

That is why my office also does not cease mounting its weekly relief efforts across the country. Beneficiaries last week include 500 typhoon victims in Cabangan, Zambales; 500 in Gapan, Nueva Ecija; and 39 in New Washington, Aklan. Fire victims, including 86 families in Antipolo City, Rizal; 34 in Malay, Aklan, and nine in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental; as well as 3,565 more flood victims in Mandaue City, Cebu were likewise assisted.

In Bohol, we were able to help 1,052 struggling residents in the towns of Pilar, 988 in Alicia, 325 in Anda, 258 in Dimiao, 199 in Sevilla, and 189 more in Lila. Meanwhile, in Rizal, beneficiaries include 500 from Rodriguez, 450 from Taytay, and 90 from Baras.

We also provided aid to 1,000 in Zamboanga City; 689 in Magsaysay, Lanao del Sur; 500 in Dingalan, Aurora; 333 in Orani, Bataan; 190 in San Fernando City, La Union; 1,000 in Angeles City, Pampanga; 12 in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental; 500 in Bustos, Bulacan; 26 in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte; 600 in San Pablo City, Laguna; and 1,000 in Tanza, Cavite.

To help boost economic recovery, we also continue to provide livelihood support to aspiring and existing business owners, including 800 in Zamboanga City; 105 in San Nicolas, 83 in San Paoay, and 76 in Banna, Ilocos Norte; as well as 90 in Bacnotan, 75 in Banga, 70 in San Juan, 50 in San Gabriel, and 20 in Sudipen, La Union; and 1,200 in Mabini, Pangasinan.

As we continuously inch our way toward pandemic recovery, let us ensure that the lives and safety of our people remain our topmost priority. As we try to build back our country better, let us make it a place where our people are not only safe against diseases but also against the proliferation of crimes, illegal drugs, corruption, and other social ills that will frustrate the full exercise of their rights and privileges under a functioning democracy.


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