Palace order enhances media protection, 13 Oct. 2016

Change is coming even in media.President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Administrative Order No. 1 creating the Presidential Task Force that seeks to protect the life, liberty, and security of media practitioners in the country.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made the announcement during a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday (October 13).

Andanar pointed out that the President signed the AO to show his “care” for the members of media who constantly face death threats and acts of violence.

The AO, signed on October 11, mandates the Task Force to conduct an inventory of all cases of violence against media workers for the first 30 days from the creation of the Task Force.
After the inventory, the special teams will then start the investigation of unsolved high profile cases such as the Maguindanao Massacre, that happened in recent years, according to Andanar.
A special oversight team composed of investigators and prosecutors will be designated to monitor the developments of the cases.

The Task Force is also designated to receive reports from media practitioners whose lives are in danger. Necessary assistance will be provided to them, including protection, if warranted.
Journalists facing death threats and acts of violence will also be assisted in coordination with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations.
The Task Force shall be headed by the Department of Justice Secretary and shall be co-chaired by the Presidential Communications Office Secretary.

Its members will include the Interior and Local Government Secretary; Defense Secretary; the Solicitor General; the Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee; the Armed Forces Chief of Staff; the Philippine National Police director-general; and the director of the National Bureau of Investigation.

At the same time, the Presidential Task Force shall also invite the following as observers and resource persons: chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR); the Ombudsman; and the heads of the the National Press Club (NPC); National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP); Kapisanan ng mg Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP); Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI), and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI).

It is hoped that with this latest presidential action, the Philippines would emerge as one of the safest places in the world to be a media practitioner.

Meanwhile, Andanar welcomed the results of the latest Social Weather Stations survey showing a new record low on self-rated poverty.

The survey showed that the families that rate themselves as “poor” fell to 42 percent or an estimated 9.4 million families in September from 45 percent or an estimated at 10.2 million in June this year.

“Change has indeed come and it is being felt by the Filipino people,” Andanar said, as he noted that it is the lowest self-rated poverty rate since March 1987.

The same September survey likewise revealed a new record low of 30 percent food poverty estimated at 6.7 million families from 31 percent or an estimated 6.9 million families in June this year.PND