THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has welcomed the filing of Senate Bill No. 1820, a legislative measure filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto, which aims to create a basic compensation scheme to include the adequate compensation for hazardous media coverages and guarantee the security of tenure or regularization for all media workers.
This was gleaned in a statement issued by CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia recently.
The proposed Media Workers’ Welfare Act also mandates the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to create a News Media Tripartite Council to cater to the concerns of media stakeholders to ensure that the labor rights of media workers are protected.
The current health pandemic emphasizes the importance of a free media in ensuring the dissemination of timely and factual information to help educate the Filipino citizenry on the health impacts of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the ways to prevent its transmission.
The adverse economic effects brought about by the pandemic, however, have led to the enactment of retrenchment policies by several media entities and franchise holders leaving numerous media professionals with no income and support system to weather the negative economic effects of Covid-19.
This problem is compounded by the massive layoff of media workers by media entities that practice unfair labor practices that mislabels longtime employees as contractual employees —denying them employee-employer relationships and benefits despite multiple years of successive contract renewals indicating the desirability and necessity of the practitioner’s work.
As a country that prides itself on having a free press, ensuring the protection and just compensation of media practitioners is essential for the protection of freedom of expression and the right of individuals to access information.
Denying media workers the fair compensation and benefits not only violates labor laws but also makes journalists vulnerable to certain financial obligations that may affect the objectivity of their news reports.
In ensuring the protection of labor rights and a free press, the Commission continues to reiterate its support for the protection and promotion of the rights of media workers.
"Together let us remember that in line with our constitutional rights to freedom of expression and information the protection of our media workers is necessary to ensure a free and fair media," the CHR said.