House bill seeks to provide journalists with hazard pay, insurance

A proposed measure filed by Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar would provide disability, health and hospitalizations benefits to all practicing journalists as the lawmaker cited the hazard of their jobs.

(Photo from Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar via Facebook)

House Bill (HB) No. 6543 would mandate additional social safety nets for journalists.

Villar noted the need to safeguard the welfare of journalists in their news coverage.

“During important assignments, journalists face the most dangerous situations like typhoons, disasters, floods, riots, war and conflicts, to name a few, in order to deliver the news to the public,” Villar said in filing the measure.

Adding that frontline journalists “accept field assignments bringing only their passion sans insurance or hazard pay although they risk their lives in the name of journalism,” the lawmaker’s proposal would entitle all practicing journalists to additional social benefits.

“It is time that journalists deserve the respect not only for the type of work that they are doing but also in the form of benefits that are long overdue. While some may not enjoy decent wages, it is necessary that journalists enjoy these perks as they have families that rely on them,” Villar said.

Among these benefits are insurance, tax-exempt hazard pay, and other incentives.

These would be given to journalists whether they are in a permanent, temporary, contractual or casual contracts and employed by media entities in the Philippines.

Villar’s bill said that freelance journalists would also be entitled to insurance benefits.

Additionally, the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) would be mandated to create a “special coverage” for them, specifically when they are covering war zones, conflict-stricken areas, and calamity affected places.

Journalists on the front lines or those on field assignments would be entitled to disability benefits of up to P300,000 for total or partial disability, P300,000 in death benefit, and reimbursement of medical costs up to P200,000.