SENATE President Vicente Sotto III wants the government to provide enhanced protection, security and benefits to the country’s media workers in recognition of the critical role that they contribute in shaping government policies and public opinion.
“At times when reliable and accurate information is crucial, such as today amid the menacing health impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, media workers have set aside all fear and reason and have gone the extra mile to gather facts and figures to make the public fully aware of what is happening in their government and communities,” Sotto said as he pushed for the enactment of the “Media Workers’ Welfare Act.”
Sotto said his proposed Senate Bill No. 1820 seeks to provide media workers with a comprehensive benefits package at par with the current benefits enjoyed by the labor force both in the government and private sector.
“Our media workers have sacrificed a lot in the name of public service. They spend more time with their microphones and cameras, recorders and laptops than their beds, their fur babies and their loved ones. It is time for the government to level up with them and provide them a safe and protected atmosphere conducive to a productive, free and fruitful media work,” Sotto said.
He added: “The media has even gone beyond their duty of news gathering. They have become the voice of the marginalized and the scared. They bridge and connect the people and their public leaders. Napakalaki ng papel na nilalaro ng ating mga reporter, ang kanilang mga cameramen at ang lahat ng bumubuo ng media industry sa ating pamayanan. Sapat lamang na pagtuunan sila ng pansin ng gobyerno at tapatan ang serbisyong kanilang ginagawa para sa ating bayan.”
Among the the highlights of SBN 1820 is the creation of a basic compensation scheme for media workers, guaranteed security of tenure or regularization for all media workers, payment of a P500 per day hazard pay for dangerous coverages, and the provision of additional insurance benefits on top of existing government benefits.
Sotto has likewise proposed the creation of a News Media Tripartite Council that will serve as a link among various stakeholders and which will provide media workers groups and media entities the platform to craft policy decisions that will affect the industry as a whole.
“It is high time that we provide the media workers their well-deserved emoluments and protection under the law,” Sotto said, adding: “The public’s need for quality, informative news can only be satisfied when our media workers feel safe and secure while in selfless pursuit of news and information.”