Revilla seeks greater protection, security and benefits for media, entertainment workers

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has sought passage of a bill that seeks to promote and ensure the welfare of field reporters, news writers, cameramen, photographers and other media and entertainment workers by giving them greater protection and institutionalized social security benefits.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1577 or the proposed Media and Entertainment Workers’ Welfare Act, Revilla said it is imperative for the government to provide journalists and media workers enhanced protection, secuirty and benefits as they “risk their life and limb to perform their duty to inform the public and deliver the meaningful stories that need to be known.”

“The Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press. It recognizes the invaluable role of the free press to a vibrant, working democracy and to the overall development of our society,” Revilla stated in the explanatory note of his bill.

“Many times, they have proven to be frontliners and first responders to various emergencies like calamities, accidents, and war, to bring the condition of the affected areas and its residents,” he further said.

Especially in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Revilla said the job of media practitioners bears an added risk of contracting the disease, and extra burden brought by strict travel restrictions and health protocols.

“Moreover, their profession becomes especially crucial to counter the proliferationof fake news and disinformation in this digital age and massive use of social media platforms,” the senator added.

Revilla said the bill primarily seeks to respond to the various labor issues reported in the print, broadcast and online media industry, and protect the basic rights of journalists as workers.

The measure also seeks to establish the News Media Tripartite Council that would serve as a platform among different stakeholders where media workers and their employers can mutually discuss beneficial policies and resolve their issues.

Under the bill, media workers who are required to physically report to work in dangerous areas, such as strife-torn, or embattled vicinities, distressed, or isolated stations, disease-infested areas or in areas declared under a state of calamity or emergency or any area that exposes them to great danger shall be compensated with a hazard pay in the minimum amout of equivalent to 25 percent of their basic daily wage.

Employers, under the bill, would also be mandated to provide media workers covering dangerous events with basic safety gear, and equipment such as bulletproof vests and helmets, first-aid kits, fire protection jackets, face shields, medical grade protective equipment, harnesses, safety shoes and life vests.

The bill also mandates employers to provide additional insurance benefits to media workers: P150,000 medical insurance benefits for each media worker, P200,000 disability insurance benefit for each media worker who shall suffer total or partial disability (whether permanent or temporary) arising from any injury sustained in the line of duty, and P200,000 death benefits for each media worker who will perish while performing his duties.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), on the other hand, would be tasked to initiate the creation of the News Media Tripartite Council, which shall serve as a link among various stakeholders in the media and entertainment industry.