Creation of BARMM media security body urged

MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) called for the creation of a regional counterpart in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to ensure the safety of media workers and prevent another Maguindanao massacre from happening again.

"I urge the Bangsamoro Region to create a counterpart Task Force of PTFoMS. The mechanism being implemented by the PTFoMS has been acknowledged by international organizations as an effective deterrent against media violence,”, PTFoMS Executive Director Usec. Joel Sy Egco said.

Egco made this call during the oath-taking ceremony of the members and officials of the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, BARMM Government Compound, Cotabato City last Saturday.

He said “a BARMM Task Force on Media Security could be the only solution in preventing a repetition of the gruesome Maguindanao massacre that happened in 2009," referring to the incident in Ampatuan town that left 58 people dead, including 32 journalists.

"In the creation of the Regional Task Force, PTFoMS will work closely with the Bangsamoro Region and BPC led by Mr. Ali Macabalang to craft the Operational Guidelines in deference to Bangsamoro's parliamentary system," Egco added.

It should be noted that BARMM, formerly ARMM, is one of the vulnerable regions for media workers as per PTFoMS data brought about by the 32 journalists killed in Maguindanao on Nov. 10, 2009 who were in a caravan to witness the filing of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu for the 2010 gubernatorial elections in Maguindanao.

The PTFoMS was created by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 through Administrative Order No. 1 with the mandate to protect the life, liberty, and security of media workers.

Marking this as a historic event, Mangudadatu who is now the Representative for Maguindanao’s 2nd District and BARMM Ministry of Local Government Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo expressed their full support to the BPC and its efforts to align the organization with the National Press Club of the Philippines, one of the country’s oldest press organizations.

At the same time, Egco said a version of the Media Workers Welfare Act (MWWA) under House Bill 8140 now pending in Congress should also be enacted for the Bangsamoro Region to uplift the economic welfare of BARMM-based media workers. PTFoMS is actively lobbying for its passage into law.

Egco said PTFoMS has already provided a copy of the MWWA to Sinarimbo. The BPC vowed to fully support and push for the approval of the measure.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City convicted Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, the masterminds of the massacre, of 57 counts of murder and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua without parole.

The 28 other co-accused including police officers were also convicted of 57 counts of murder and sentenced to 40 years, while 15 other accused were sentenced to 6–10 years for being accessories to the crime.

The conviction was a product of the immense support given by Duterte to the victims of the massacre. (PR)