MANILA -- Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday announced that his office is putting up a housing project for media workers as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s initiative to ensure the dignity and safety of journalists in the Philippines.

Andanar said the housing project would be constructed in a portion of a five-hectare lot owned by the government in Malolos, Bulacan.

He made the announcement during the inauguration of the headquarters of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) at the Philippine Cancer Society building near Malacañang Palace.

The PTFoMS was created through Administrative Order (AO) No. 1, which Duterte signed on Oct. 11, 2016, to ensure the life, liberty, and security of media workers in the Philippines.

The Task Force is also mandated to ensure that justice will be served to victims of abuse and other acts of violence, including killings and torture, against media workers who were targeted by reason of their profession.

In making the announcement, Andanar, who co-chairs the PTFoMS with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, said the task force goes beyond just protecting the safety of journalists.

“It’s not just the physical safety of the person from harm, from death, from untoward incidents that eventually affects the livelihood of the person and the quality of life of the family of that media person,” he said.

“In the PCOO, we try to do everything within our means to be able to help our mediamen, not only on their safety but also in terms of medical needs and housing needs,” Andanar, who was a mediaman prior to joining the government, said.

The five-hectare lot where the housing project will be constructed is owned by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), an agency under the PCOO.

A housing project for PCOO and PIA employees is already being developed in the area.

According to Andanar, his office has already coordinated with the PIA and the National Press Club (NPC) about the project for media.

He said he was already able to talk with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to develop the property for PCOO, PIA employees, and also for media.

“We included media because, for most of our colleagues who retire, they retire without a house of their own. And the NPC has been trying for decades to establish a housing project for mediamen with the help of the NHA and Pag-Ibig Fund,” he said.

Andanar said the NHA has already agreed and planning is being completed.

To better implement the program, he assigned PTFoMS head Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco to be the point man for the project.

“Since I’ve said earlier that the task force goes beyond media security, I am now asking Undersecretary Joel’s help: that you include the housing project for media as one of your projects,” Andanar said.

He noted that the NPC has been trying for decades to come up with a housing project for members of media on a property in Taguig City but it was only during the time of former NPC President and now Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority director Benny Antiporda and Undersecretary Egco, then member of the NPC Board, that a housing project for journalists was concretized and put up in Pulilan, Bulacan. (PNA)