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Media security vanguards designated vs threats

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Media security vanguards designated vs threats
Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Egco said there is a need to assign media security focal persons, as studies have shown that there is a spike in violence against media workers before, during and after elections.
The STAR / KJ Rosales, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has designated “media security vanguards” who would handle threats against journalists during the election period, a Palace official said yesterday.

Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Egco said there is a need to assign media security focal persons, as studies have shown that there is a spike in violence against media workers before, during and after elections.

“We are doing everything to protect our colleagues... I thank the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary Eduardo Año and (PNP chief) Gen. Dionardo Carlos because they granted our request...to designate media security focal persons called ‘media security vanguards,’” Egco told state-run People’s Television Network.

“Aside from coverage, there are media personnel who are running for office and some of them were killed. We are investigating these incidents. We are looking at the possible dangers or risks that our colleagues are facing, especially those who have entered politics,” he added.

Egco said journalists whose media outfits ceased operations during the pandemic and are now using social media as a platform have become more vulnerable to threats.

“With the advent of technology, they migrated to social media and we all know that once you post in social media, it will be seen by your neighbors and by everyone in your town. It will reach the subject of your criticism,” Egco said.

“We really need to place an extra mantle of protection for them because one death is a death too many.”

Police public information chief Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba said he would deal with the security needs of journalists at the national level. Media practitioners may also go to regional and local public information officers for their safety concerns, he added.

Police stations and local police chiefs were tasked to validate and confirm complaints by media practitioners.

“If there is a need to arrest the subject of the complaint, if we have enough evidence, we could do warrantless arrest or if someone files a case, if there is a warrant of arrest, we could arrest (the person involved),” Alba said.

“Now, of course, we also have to validate... not all complaints are valid complaints that are related to their job, but of course these are personal. But still, we are willing to help,” he added.

Egco and Alba said the government does not want a repeat of the Maguindanao massacre, which left at least 57 people, including 32 media practitioners, dead in 2009.

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