UNESCO eyes partnership with PTFoMS

MANILA – Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), met with representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) led by Mohamed Djelid, Director and Representative of UNESCO Office in Jakarta, Indonesia, to discuss possible cooperation on capacity building projects on human rights during a courtesy visit in Malacañang, Manila on March 25.

Egco presented the accomplishments of PTFoMS since its inception in 2016 and its pivotal role in ensuring media freedom in the Philippines by protecting the life, liberty and security of media workers pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 1.

Also present during the meeting were Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, who spoke about the openness of the government and its willingness to engage with UNESCO; Police Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba, spokesperson and chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Public Information Office, who discussed the role of Media Security Vanguards in protecting media workers; and lawyer Perry Solis, PTFoMS Chief of Staff, who talked about the cases being handled by the Task Force.

Djelid commended the presentations and emphasized that UNESCO is primarily concerned with the prevention of human rights violations in general through capacity building projects.

He added that UNESCO is here to help through long term collaboration with the Philippine government as they have the tools, means, and experience incapacitating stakeholders through education, campaign and advocacy.

Egco welcomed the proposal of the UNESCO delegate for collaboration and stated that the Philippines is very open to any suggestion to improve its capacity to deal with human rights issues.

With Djelid were Dr. Mee Young Choi, Head of Education at UNESCO Jakarta and Signe Poulsen, Senior Human Rights Adviser of UN Philippines.

The Jakarta Office which Djelid currently heads is both UNESCO’s Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and Cluster Office for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, and the Philippines. It covers all UNESCO programs in the Philippines, such as education, sciences, culture, communication, and information.

The parties agreed to meet again to further discuss the possible partnership between UNESCO and the Philippine government on human rights concerns.

In the recent 2021-2022 “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report” released by UNESCO, it highlighted the Philippines as among a very few countries in the world that have undertaken “good practices and positive measures” in the safety of journalists.

UNESCO report took note of the concrete measures undertaken by Duterte administration through the PTFoMS, such as:
*Establishing and implementing stronger protection, prosecution, prevention, and reporting measures to enhance the safety of journalists;
*Implementing national and subnational monitoring mechanisms for the safety of journalists; and
*Improving reporting mechanisms, sensitizing and building the capacity of the law enforcement system, and creating extensive policy frameworks at the national level are all important steps for promoting the safety of journalists.”

The UNESCO report also cited the establishment by the Philippine government of “a special task force for the safety of journalists,” now being emulated in other parts of the world. (PR)