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Legarda calls for increased protection and support of journalists

May 3, 2021

In observance of the World Press Freedom Day today, three-term Senator and now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda, called for increased protection and support for journalists and media practitioners in the country, thus pushing for more responsive and effective efforts in protecting their rights and welfare.

“Freedom of the press is essential for democracy. It is the right of the people to be given truthful and timely information, especially in these trying times. Press freedom is equated to transparency which enables our people to engage in meaningful participation in public affairs. It also promotes accountability and curtails corruption, a long-standing obstacle to our country’s development,” Legarda said.

“However, our journalists have been in a dire situation for years. They have been covering real-time news that put their lives in danger, while having to deal with difficult work conditions, some having no security of tenure and receiving meager amount for the needs of their families, especially those from small stations in the provinces, freelancers, and those under project employment contracts. We have to strengthen our protection and support for the welfare of our journalists for them to be able to continue upholding truth and transparency in our society,” Legarda added.

Having been a broadcast journalist herself for two decades prior to becoming an elected official, Legarda pushed for the Freedom of Information Bill during her stint in the Senate, stressing that honesty, transparency and accountability must always be upheld to gain back the people’s confidence and faith in the bureaucracy. In the House of Representatives, Legarda co-authored House Bill No. 8140 or the Media Workers’ Welfare Act, which was already approved on third reading. The proposed measure seeks to ensure that media workers are protected, secured, and well-compensated.

“Our media workers have always been at the frontlines to ensure that relevant and accurate information are received by the public on time, especially amid this pandemic. Given the hazardous circumstances that they have to go through everyday, House Bill 8140 seeks to ensure that they receive comprehensive benefits package. If passed into law, the bill will require media companies to regularize all workers after the probationary period of six (6) months. Media workers would also receive minimum wage rate prescribed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, overtime pay, night shift premiums, and are entitled to SSS, Pag-ibig and Philhealth coverage. Hazard pay of Php 500 per day will be provided to those who have to report for work in areas considered to be dangerous, as well as mandatory additional insurance benefits of up to Php200,000 in case of death and disability and up to Php100,000 for medical insurance, among others,” Legarda explained

“The contribution of media practitioners cannot be over-emphasized. The media, who provides and ensures the flow of information on national interests and public welfare across the nation, is a powerful sector in nation-building. As they work hard to bring the truth to the people despite the risks they face in their jobs, we should address their concerns, ensure their security, respect their rights, and give them benefits that are due them,” Legarda concluded.***