Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Undersecretary Paul M. Gutierrez and Philippine Information Agency Director General Undersecretary Jose A. Torres, Jr. during the PIA Press Conference on Friday, Nov. 18, 2023. – Photo by Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Friday (Nov. 17) assured that they are doing their best in order to provide the members of the media more benefits while in the performance of their duty.

In a press conference held at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) hosted by PIA Director General Undersecretary Jose A. Torres, Jr. and PIA Deputy Director-General for Regional Operations Adolfo Ares P. Gutierrez, PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Paul M. Gutierrez said that under Executive Order No. 1, their mandate is to investigate all violations on the life and liberty of all the members of the media.

“It encompasses not only the tri-media (Radio/Television/Newspaper) but the quad-media (online/social media platform), as well,” Gutierrez said.

He cited that on May 25, 2023, Cris Bundukin was ambushed while in the performance of his duty.

Gutierrez stressed that all of these incidents have been solved or ongoing, including the ambush slay of Percy Lapid on Oct. 25, 2022.

“On our own way, we are doing our best to work out for more benefits for the members of the media,” he said.

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the PTFoMS to extend legal assistance to members of the media who may have been facing legal problems in the performance of their respective duties.

Gutierrez also said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also silently helping the members of the press pertaining to the problems they are encountering.

The PTFoMS boasted that the BangsaMoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) may even be the first to pass into law the “BARMM Media Welfares Act.”

“Magkaroon man lang, kumbaga, ng minimum wage ang members ng media. Nasa technical working group na po ito. Tayo po ay nakahandang magparticipate dito,” Gutierrez said.

“Likewise, overtime, kasama na ang hazard pay kung nagcocover ka ng risky coverage or work-related coverage,” he added.

The Tripartite Council is supposed to agree on how much would be the minimum wage, hazard pay and other benefits for the members of the media.

It is composed of the employers, the members of the media and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Gutierrez noted that all the laws have their own respective IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations).

The PTFoMS has been conducting a series of seminar-workshop for the members of the media, particularly those from the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

It has also lined up a series of seminar-workshop in Cebu City, Cotabato City, Davao City and other areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

Gutierrez also revealed that a P3.7-million reward has already been raised for anyone who could provide any information that may lead in the arrest of the suspect in the killing of Johnny Walker in Misamis Occidental.

As of Wednesday (Nov. 15), Gutierrez said, the case has already been filed with the Misamis Occidental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, who is the Chairman of the PTFoMS, has instructions not to file a case without having an “airtight” case against any suspect involved in the slay of members of the media.

“We believe in the competence of the members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS),” Gutierrez said.

The PTFoMS executive director is also pushing for an advocacy of “Responsible Gun Ownership.”

Gutierrez stressed that the PTC (Permit to Carry) a firearm, the validity of which is two years, should be extended by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the sense that by the time the PTC is secured, another election time is about to begin.

On the Maguindanao massacre case which claimed the lives of 58 individuals, including 32 members of the media and 15 women, the PTFoMS executive director would like to determine the status of the families of the victims in so far as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) statement on the Maguindanao massacre case is concerned. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.