Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Poe wants hotline for media workers



Sen. Grace Poe asked the government to set up a dedicated hotline for media workers to report threats amid increasing cases of work-related harassment and killings.

"This is a priority--a dedicated hotline [for the media]. It's really to report threats," said Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, who presided over a hearing Wednesday on media killings.

The senator also said telecommunications firms can help in a way that reports sent through text messages may be free of charge.

"We need a hotline. Matagal na nating hinihingi 'yan," Poe said.

Poe said she will also push for media workers' benefits, such as hazard pay and insurance.

The senator has filed Senate Resolution 820 directing her committee to find feasible ways and means to provide standardized social protection mechanisms such as health and accident insurance to the media.

"This is also for the welfare of media in general. You could coordinate with other government agencies to provide insurance for high-risk groups," Poe told the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) during the hearing.

From the time the media task force was created through Administrative Order No. 1 in 2016, there have been some eight work-related media killings.

Asked about the "red-tagging" of some media organizations as alleged communists and being branded as enemies of the state, Poe said: "Supposedly this is already an obsolete presentation--it should never be a relevant presentation to begin with. Hihingi tayo ng reaksyon ng AFP kung bakit may mga ganitong presentasyon. 'Di ba sinasabi nga ng lahat na ang media nga ang tagabantay so dapat proteksyunan din naman sila at maresolba na rin itong mga kaso laban sa mga pagpatay."

The media task force, currently chaired by journalist Usec. Joel Sy Egco, should be independent and composed of media practitioners. At present, media organizations, human rights groups and the academe are mere observers in the task force.

"You know how legislation takes long. But in the process, I think we should be able to file a measure na magkaroon ng independent group for the protection of media practitioners...an independent commission...Sa ngayon na wala pa yan, ang puwede nating gawin ay ilaan talaga sa budget na mayroong mapunta sa task force na iyan. Sinabi na natin sa kanila na ang composition ng kanilang board ay dapat mayroong independent practitioners na miyembro, members of the academe at hindi lamang government officials para patas ang pag-iimbestiga," Poe said.
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