CHR to launch alert system for journalists under attack

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CHR to launch alert system for journalists under attack
Relatives and supporters of victims of the country's worst political massacre light candles during a vigil at a park in Manila on December 18, 2019, on the eve of a court verdict in the case.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission of Human Rights (CHR) is set to formally launch a platform for journalists to report threats and attacks in a bid to ensure the safety of media workers in the country. 

In a statement, the CHR said that “Alisto! Alert Mechanism” seeks to “provide a concrete platform where it may directly respond to attacks and threats against media workers.”

According to the commission, the initiative aligns with its commitment to implement the Philippine Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists, a roadmap to promote the protection of media workers and safeguard press freedom in the country. 

“In a time where it is now apparent that the defenders of truth also need defending, the conversation on fostering a safe working environment for journalists should also be making headlines on our screens as we scroll through the news and commentaries,” the CHR said. 

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with fatal attacks frequently targeting those outside the capital region. Since 1986, 199 journalists have been killed in the country, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Government agencies like the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) further endanger journalists by falsely accusing them of supporting or being involved in the communist armed struggle, exposing them to both physical and online attacks. 

NUJP chairperson Jonathan de Santos called the alert system “a good first response to threats” that may serve as a deterrent to further attacks and harassment. 

“We hope that engagement with the CHR and government agencies will lead to a safer environment for media workers, and, just as importantly, an end to the culture of impunity on attacks against journalists,” De Santos told Philstar.com.

The CHR urged other government agencies to address the challenges faced by journalists and implement adequate mechanisms that guarantee a safe work environment.

Early this month, United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion Irene Khan said that some initiatives of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) were “not enough.”

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