Given the spike in the number of attacks and threats against media workers over the past few years, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) believes that they deserve extra protection and security, on top of additional economic benefits.
This is why the CHR said it is fully supporting the passage into law of the proposed Media Workers’ Welfare Act by the Committee on Labor and Employment of the House of Representatives
The bill, which was originally filed in the 18th Congress, has been refiled in the current 19th Congress as House Bill (HB) No. 454, in consolidation with HBs 304, 1924, 2487 and 2801.
The CHR said that HB 454 which was introduced by lawmakers Jeffrey Soriano, Eric Yap, Paolo Duterte, Jocelyn Tulfo, and Ralph Tulfo would enhance the protection, security, and benefits of media workers and improve their socio-economic and overall well-being.
It said that among the key features of the proposed measure are entitlements to overtime pay, night shift premiums, and wage that should not be below the minimum salary in their respective region.
Also, it said that when covering dangerous assignments and areas, media workers would also be given hazard pay and be provided with basic safety gear.
CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia, a lawyer, said that the right to security of tenure is also covered by HB No. 454 since it states that media workers shall be deemed as regular employees after six months of employment.
De Guia said that the proposed legislation would provide social security coverage and additional mandatory benefits, such as death and disability benefits, and medical insurance.
“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,” she stressed.
“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,” she said.
With the proposed measure in place, the CHR is hopeful that more young people will continue to express interest in a career in journalism, De Guia.
She pointed out that the CHR will continuously will do its part in upholding media protection by monitoring its helpdesks, hotlines, and social media channels and responding to attacks on the press and free expression.
“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 added.