Ahead of the campaign period for the 2022 national and local elections, the government initiated a novel approach to protect media workers and journalists with the launch of the Media Security Vanguards (MSVs) of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Friday.
During the virtual ceremony and press conference, more than 500 Public Information Officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) all over the country, led by PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba, were formally designated as MSVs to protect the life, liberty, and security of all journalists and media workers in the country.
Alba will serve as chief vanguard.
PTFoMS Executive Director, Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, lauded the efforts of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and PNP to protect journalists and prevent another tragedy like the Ampatuan massacre in 2009 when 32 journalists and media workers were among the 58 killed in the Maguindanao town.
The launch of the MSVs is an important milestone in the protection of press freedom and journalists, not only in the Philippines but in the rest of the world.
“Today, we can proudly say that this government has the resolve, determination, and even the political will to acknowledge and protect the important role of every journalist and media worker in this democratic country and that is to inform, educate, inspire, and empower all our citizens,” Egco said.
Recognizing “journalists as harbingers of truth, information, and justice,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año stressed in his speech that “the media need to be safeguarded against every threat of violence, discrimination, misinformation, corruption, and other forms of perils that become even more prevalent during elections.”
He added that journalists’ “sacred jobs” cannot be restrained with doubt, fear, harassment, and intimidation to tell the truth.
Based on PTFoMS’ mandate, aside from acting as media workers’ first line of defense, MSVs shall directly coordinate with assigned Special Agents of the PTFoMS in expediting the investigation and resolution of cases of violence, threats, and acts of intimidation against journalists.
“Now, we can gladly look forward to a future where the press can go out there, walk and work on the ground freely – free and far from the perils that have been long attached to a journalist’s job,” Año said.
He also challenged journalists to “work closely and collaboratively with us in government, especially with the PNP Public Information Officers who have been designated as Media Security Vanguards.”