The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a 9-1-1 for Media Workers

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." Or so goes the quote that some say people have mistakenly been attributed to Voltaire.

From what I've heard so far at a meeting in Malacanang that I sat in on as an observer yesterday, it seems that President Rodrigo Duterte's  Presidential Task Force on Media Security  (PTFoMS) IS the manifestation of the ethos that underlies the popular quote. 

One way to see the importance of the PTFoMS is to regard it as the President's direct response to accusations that he disregards the bill of rights enshrined in Article III of  the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Instead of silencing the media, the Duterte administration's intent for the PTFoMS is to enable the members of the media to freely engage in their profession without having to fear for their lives.

PTFoMS Secretariat Executive Director, Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco explains that the media, armed with the Freedom of Information tool, is a key and indispensable partner against all forms of corruption and abuse.

"It is our duty to protect them," said Usec. Joel.

Usec. Joel points out that the unit is vastly different from the Aquino Administration's Inter Agency Task Force on Extra Legal Killings in the sense that it has a stronger focus on producing actual results in the form of resolved investigations and prosecution of those who abuse, threaten, harm, or kill workers in Philippine media.

"The PTFoMS reports to the President and he expects results within specific time frames. We emphasized to our colleagues in government that our mission is to protect our fellow journalists and hopefully, in the days to come, this will be more evident as we begin moving on the ground," said Joel.

The PTFoMS is chaired by Department of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre and co-chaired by the Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar. Its members include the DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Solicitor General Jose Calida, AFP Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya, Philippine National Police Director General Ronaldo Dela Rosa,  NBI Director Dante Gierran, and the Presidential Human Rights Committee Executive Director.

"We are going to move backward, forward and every other way possible to prevent media killings and in the unfortunate instances that a media worker is harmed or killed, that justice will be served. Because of the past experience of our colleagues in the media and also because of the nature of journalism, we expect to encounter skepticism -- which is just right. This is a challenge we will rise up to meet and this can only be done through action on the ground wherever there may be a threat against any media worker," said Usec. Joel.

During the meeting yesterday which was presided by the PTFoMS Secretariat together with Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan, the group went through the final fine tuning of their operational guidelines with the aim of ensuring an immediate response to complaints from media workers.

"What we are aiming for is a 9-1-1 for media workers," said Usec. Joel.

"The Operational Guidelines will (also for the first time) operationalize your PTFoMS. The guidelines have been approved in principle, including my proactive proposals to ensure the complete safety of media workers (as defined in AO 1). As Sec. Martin Marfori Andanar has instructed me, PTFoMS will not be a "so-so" or "just-just" Presidential Task Force. The President himself clearly pointed that out in his speech earlier. We are serious, dead serious in this effort. As I have previously stressed, we will not be distracted by the noise."
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a 9-1-1 for Media Workers The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a 9-1-1 for Media Workers Reviewed by Paul Farol on 9:28 AM Rating: 5

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