Villafuerte highlights progress of media workers’ welfare bill

Published December 10, 2022, 10:44 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Local media practitioners in both the government and private sector are closing in on benefits such as security of tenure, hazard and overtime pay, and mandatory additional insurance coverage.

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte (Facebook)

Thus, said Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte as he highlighted the recent passage on third and final reading of House Bill (HB) No.454 or the “Media Workers’ Welfare Act”.

“Media workers risk their own lives being exposed to the perils and hazards outdoors just so we can receive our needed information. It is unfortunate that the very same people behind it are usually the ones whose labor rights are ignored, such as those pertaining to security of tenure, hazard pay, night shift differential pay and overtime pay, among others,” Villafuerte said in HB No.304, a precursor to HB No.454.

He said that the measure “seeks to ensure that media workers shall be provided with comprehensive benefits package at par with the current benefits enjoyed by those in the labor force in both government and the private sector”.

“It seeks to create a safe and protected atmosphere conducive to a productive, free and fruitful media work, as well as to guarantee the right of workers to self-organization,” added Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).

The pro-media workers’ bill was unanimously passed on third reading by the 252 present members during plenary session last Nov. 21.

Villafuerte agreed with the view of House Speaker Martin Romualdez that the approval of HB 454 highlighted the importance that the bigger chamber has given to advancing the welfare of media personnel and ensuring press freedom.

The Bicol solon has filed similar bills promoting the welfare of media practitioners during past Congresses.

The bill provides that the minimum compensation for media workers shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board. They shall be entitled to overtime and night shift pay as provided under the Labor Code and related laws.

Media personnel shall be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) upon employment. Monthly premiums shall be shared by the worker and the employer in accordance with existing rules.

Personnel required to physically report for work in dangerous places such as embattled and disease-stricken areas shall receive a hazard pay of P500 a day. Employers shall provide them with safety gear like bulletproof vests and protective equipment.

Media workers shall be entitled to P200,000 death benefit, disability benefit of up to P200,000 and medical insurance of up to P100,000.

They shall be deemed as regular employees after six months from the start of employment. An employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause and with the observance of due process.

All labor-related disputes shall be settled by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office which has jurisdiction over the workplace.