The top official of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) said the Duterte administration remains committed to ensuring the safety of journalists in the country.

Undersecretary Jose Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the PTFOMS which is under the Office of the President, said the task force’s top mandate is to protect the lives, liberty and security of media practitioners.

“If you feel there is danger or somebody is even joking to kill you, you can call the task force.” 

“If you feel there is danger or somebody is even joking to kill you, you can call the task force,” Sy Egco said in Filipino during the press conference on the sidelines of the Presidential Communications Operations Office Roadshow on Freedom of Information and Media Security at the Cebu Normal University in Cebu City.

The communications official said the task force will not be intimidated by anyone who has committed or is about to commit a crime against media members, as even politicians and fellow journalists will be investigated by the task force.

“Maski magbiro ka na papatay ka ng media, yari ka sa akin (Even if you are just joking that you will kill a member of the media, you will be answerable to me),” he stressed.

The thrust of the Duterte administration is to support measures that promote transparency and press freedom, he pointed out.

“That’s why the PCOO goes to the grassroots in informing them about FOI” as a policy that directs government offices to make public records available to the people, said Sy Egco, who himself worked as a journalist for more than two decades.

The media practitioners’ sense of duty, becoming advocates of issues they tackle in their outlets and crusaders of truth are among the reasons there had been newsmen killed in the country.

“Media violence in the country, harassment, and killings is a direct by-product of the hostile geo-political environment,” he said.

Sy Egco noted that politics, corruption and criminality, and vulnerability of media practitioners are the top three major contributors of violence involving media.

He said that the country has 440 cable and television stations, 430 AM radio stations, 1,020 FM radio stations and 300 newspaper titles as reported by the editors’ association with at least five workers per outfit.

Sy Egco said only 10 percent of media practitioners in the country are receiving good pay, while 90 percent receives zero to P25,000 monthly salary, which demonstrates “the vulnerability of media,” he said.

“It’s an open secret that they we’re used by politicians.”

“It’s an open secret that they we’re used by politicians. Sometimes, it’s their choice to be used. Of course, we can’t blame them by that. They want also to live. I never denounced a person,” Sy Egco said in his presentation on media security prior to the press briefing.

He said that when a member of the local or national media reports corruption issues or criminalities, it increases the risk of them falling victim to violence, or worst, killing.

Sy Egco, however, encouraged newsmen to continue their job in spreading the news and information to the people. 


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