The Commission on Human Rights on Friday welcomed the approval of the proposed Media Workers’ Welfare Act by the House of Representatives’ committee on labor and employment.
“Given the multitude of threats and attacks in recent years that undermine the free press, the proposed measure can help boost the morale of media workers and may encourage more young people to pursue a career in this field,” executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“While the CHR lauds the bill’s ideals, we equally hope the measure also contemplates support that can be rendered for small media companies and community newspapers that cannot provide full benefits and may resort to closure instead,” she added.
She said the agency will continue to actively work for media protection through our helpdesks, hotlines and social media channels as one of the media and public safety mechanisms in response to attacks on the press and free expression.
In 2018, CHR issued a resolution formalizing the creation of a Task Force on Media-Related Extrajudicial Killings to monitor and investigate media attacks, she noted.
Partnerships and joint activities had also been conducted with media groups to better protect and promote the rights and freedoms of journalists, she cited.
“The Commission continues to call for support in defense of free press. We continue to urge the government and the public to acknowledge and defend the role of media in providing fair and accurate information that contributes to a durable democracy that we all deserve and aspire,” she said.
Originally filed in the 18th Congress, the proposed bill is re-filed in the current 19th Congress as House Bill No. 454 in
consolidation with House Bills Nos. 304, 1924, 2487 and 2801.
The right to security of tenure is also covered by HB No. 454 as it provides that media workers shall be deemed regular employees after six months of employment.
“CHR commends the intention of the said bill to improve the welfare and work conditions of media workers who courageously seek and report the truth despite the risks. Upholding the dignity and labor rights of media workers is essential to the flourishing of press freedom while also enhancing the people’s right to timely and accurate information,” De Guia emphasized.