BAGUIO CITY – Making good his promise that with his administration comes the protection of press freedom, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Administrative Order No. 1 on October 11, 2016 creating the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFMS) to serve as a pro-active measure for the protection of media workers and to ensure that the families of media killing victims will get justice.
Undersecretary and PTFMS Executive Director Jose Joel Sy Egco explained during the 2017 ASEAN-PCOO Roadshow on February 3 at Hotel Elizabeth here that press freedom is one of the most important pillars of democracy. Pres. Duterte has made it clear that his government will not allow media killings to continue nor to suppress or intimidate media workers. Hence ensuring the protection and security of media workers who are victims of torture, violation of their human rights and threats to their safety is imperative.
Egco explained that media workers are the legitimate members of the so-called Fourth Estate like reporters, anchorpersons or commentators, columnists, cameramen and photographers of the print, radio and television media.
Media worker killings under AO No. 1 have the following characteristics: the victim is a media worker, the victim was targeted and killed because he or she is a media worker, those responsible for his or her death is a state agent or non-state agent and that the act made was meant to kill.
It is the a primary policy of the PTFMS to consider as “work-related” any incident of threat , harassment, assault or killing because of the practice of their profession or occupation as media workers in order that speedy action such as investigation and pursuit for the arrest of the suspects and masterminds be undertaken, Egco said.
The Task Force will also be pro-active by acting on reports of any threat or danger that are being faced by media workers so that these will not worsen and turn into violence, intimidation, torture or killings.
Egco informed that the PTFMS was ordered to make an inventory and assessment of all cases of media killings and threats. After the assessment, a Special Team will start its investigation especially to high profile cases that are still unresolved.
Pres. Duterte’s AO 1 makes him only world leader who has created a task force to ensure a safe environment for media workers, according to Egco.
Aside from the PTFMS, other priority policies discussed in the roadshow were the Freedom of Information, the Association of South East Asian Nations Summit 2017 which the Philippines is chairing, and New Media Communications for Participatory Governance./JDP/DBC- PIA CAR, Ifugao#