MANILA -- Members of various press corps in Metro Manila have expressed their appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for providing safer working environment for media by creating the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS).
“We are very thankful to President Duterte for the formation of this task force,” Lily Reyes, president of the National Capital Region Police Office Press Corps, said during the PTFoMS seminar on its operational guidelines and introduction of protocols at Greenhills Elan Hotel in Greenhills, San Juan held on Friday.
Reyes said the creation of the PTFoMS has boosted the government’s campaign against media killings and other forms of harassments.
“They (criminals) are now a little bit afraid because the NBI, PNP and other law enforcers are united against death threats to media,” said Reyes, who claimed she had already received at least 10 death threats since becoming a journalist.
She commended PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Sy Egco for working hard to implement the task force’s mandate particularly the resolution of unsolved cases of media killings.
“I’m also thankful to Undersecretary Egco because of his determination to address any kind of media harassment by going even to very far provinces every time there is report of media harassment or death threats,” Reyes said.
For his part, Quezon City Police District Press Corps president Almar Danguilan lauded the creation of PTFoMS which, he said, has boosted security of the media.
“We are really happy that this task force was created for our protection. It is good that there is this PTFoMS because before we just ignored death threats but now, I think, we have to take it seriously,” Danguilan said.
“It’s a big help for us. But it does not mean that we have to abuse our profession. We are still bound to write what we need to write in accordance with the code of ethics of journalists,” he added.
Since Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 1 in October 2016, Egco said PTFoMS has solved five media killings, bringing the total solved cases to eight.
Egco, a former media practitioner, said the solved media killings have been included as part of the PTFoMS’s report to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as the Philippines aims to be delisted from the Global Impunity Index by 2020.
“This is our vision in 2020. We are making an urgent appeal to delist the country from of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Failure is not option in this campaign,” Egco said.
In his speech, PTFoMS chairman and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has encouraged the task force agents and law enforcers to go after the perpetrators of media killings in the country.
“Arrest them (killers of media) and I will send them to jail,” Guevarra told the police and task force agents during the second PTFoMS seminar attended by members of PNP, prosecutors and media.
Egco said the task force intends to conduct more seminars particularly in Visayas and Mindanao to explain to the people as well as to the law enforcers the works and functions of the PTFoMS.
“We have prepared at least seven seminars throughout the country because we want the Filipino people and the world to know that the Duterte administration is doing its best to address media killings and harassments in the country,” Egco said.
From fourth place when Duterte came into office in 2016, the Philippines dropped to fifth place in CPJ’s Global Impunity Index in 2017.
The New York-based CPJ has attributed the country’s improvement to the creation of the PTFoMS. (PNA)