THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has assigned almost 2,000 policemen to serve as media security vanguards during the 2022 national election period, an official said Friday, January 21, 2022.

PNP spokesperson Colonel Roderick Augustus Alba said the heads of the 133 PNP public information offices nationwide will serve as the focal person of the total of 1,899 police security vanguards.

He will be the focal person at the national level.

“Our job is to facilitate appropriate police actions on issues, including media security in the 2022 elections,” Alba said during the launching of the “Media Security Vanguards” program led by the Presidential Task Force of Media Security (PTFoMS).

Alba recognized the risk being faced by media workers during the said period.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier instructed the PNP to designate media security focal persons in each province and city nationwide to ensure the protection of members of the media over possible threats and intimidation amid the upcoming national elections.

Año made the order following the request of PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Sy Egco.

Egco recognized the vulnerability of media workers during the election period, citing the infamous Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre in November 2009 where nearly 60 people were killed, including 32 media workers.

The said media workers were then covering the filing of certificate of candidacy of then Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu by his relatives, including his wife and two sisters.

Mangudadatu said he had received threats that he would be killed once he filed his COC, prompting him to just let his wife and sisters do it for him.

He invited the media to cover the event, hoping it would deter attacks against him, but it did not. They media personnel were also killed.

On December 19, 2019, a Quezon City court handed down the guilty verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment several respondents in the case, including members of the once-powerful Ampatuan clan, who were believed to be behind the plot.

He urged the reporters and other media workers to immediately seek police assistance if they feel the need for protection.

“Kapag may ganyang report, ibato niyo agad sa amin. Kami na po magre-request if we need to provide protection, security details until mag-dissipate yung threat. We do that,” Egco said during the launch.

Egco said he understands the need for several media personalities to bring firearms for their protection.

He said they are currently in close coordination with the Commission on Elections to get its nod in making media workers exempted from the prevailing election gun ban.

He said media workers themselves may apply for exemption. (SunStar Philippines)