MEDIA PROTECTION.  Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco (second from left), Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), and ACT-CIS Party-list Representative Niña O. Taduran (second from right) sign a memorandum of agreement on media security at Max Restaurant in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City on Wednesday (July 17, 2019).  The ACT-CIS Party-list is pushing for the passage of the Media Workers Welfare Act which will provide equal protection and standardized remuneration. Also in photo are PTFOMS chief of staff Abraham A. Gamata (left) and Garreth Tunglo (right) representing ACT-CIS Rep. Jocelyn Tulfo. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA -- Citing the lack of laws that protect the rights of media practitioners, a party-list lawmaker said on Wednesday she filed a bill seeking to provide quality compensation and security of tenure for media workers.

In a press launch, Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Rep. Rowena Nina Taduran, who is also a former broadcast personality, said her group sought to fight for equal protection and standardize remuneration under the “Media Workers Welfare Act” bill.

“Media talents are treated as disposable and since they are never regularized, they also do not qualify for the promotion,” Taduran said.

“In providing humane conditions of work and living wage, the bill cites three objectives: to ensure that media workers shall be provided with comprehensive benefits packaged at par with the current benefits enjoyed by those in the labor force both in government and the private sector; to motivate and encourage media workers to perform their duties as truthful and responsible informers of the people; and to ensure the creation of a safe, protected, and an atmosphere conducive to a productive, free, and fruitful media work," the bill states.

With backing from Malacañang, through Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said they are confident the proposed bill will move smoothly in Congress. Egco is also the PTFoMS executive director.

“This will only be one of the measures that will improve the media industry in the Philippines, finally we will have a voice in the Congress,” Egco said during the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between PTFoMS and ACT-CIS.

President Rodrigo Duterte initially put up the PTFoMS because there was no state commission in the country standing for media workers’ rights.

The Commission on Press Freedom and Media Security (CPFMS) will be created and it will serve as media workers’ safeguard from all forms of attacks and as a development center for journalism.

With the creation of the CPFMS, the PTFoMS, which was created under Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2016 shall be abolished and its functions and operational guidelines shall be subsumed by the CPFMS.

This bill will also provide for a matrix for the hazard pays of employees dispatched to war-torn areas for coverage as there is none yet existing today.

“They should be given economic due and further protection under the law,” Egco added.

Under the “Media Workers Welfare Act”, it will grant mandatory additional insurance benefits by the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service lnsurance System (GSlS) including death benefit, disability benefit, and reimbursement of medical expenses.

The bill also declares that any warrant of arrest or search warrant issued against any media worker accused of any offense related to the practice of his/her profession shall be served in coordination with the commission or the local media organization in the area where the employee operates.

The Commission shall be headed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and composed of journalists’ organizations duly recognized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) represented by their respective presidents.

Forming part the body includes the National Press Club (NPC); Philippine Press Institute (PPl); Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP); Press Photographers of the Philippines (PPP); Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC); National Union Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP); Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPl); Federation of Provincial Press Clubs (F PPC); Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR); and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications (AIJC).

The CPFMS shall promulgate the Code of Ethics of media workers within six months from the effectivity of the act and shall also hold activities aimed at upgrading the journalism profession through awards, cash incentives, scholarship grants, exchange programs, and others.

Meanwhile, media networks shall be responsible and liable for all contents released under their names.

In cases filed against their employees, the owners of the media networks shall be accountable for civil liabilities. (PNA)