The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) has cited the Philippines’ significant gains in protecting journalists in its territory which it referred to as a “validation” of the Duterte administration’s efforts to uphold press freedom in the country/
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar , co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) shared the news with media based on the UNESCO’s 2020 Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.
The report also said “significant progress was made” by the country in the case of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, pointing out that on December 19, 2019, the court convicted 43 individuals, including the masterminds behind the attack.
PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy, for his part, also noted that the UNESCO report highlighted the Philippines among the countries which have strengthened their monitoring mechanisms to track attacks against journalists.
The Philippines is reputedly the first country in the world to establish a government body devoted exclusively to media security. On October 11, 2016, President Duterte created PTFoMS under Administrative Order No. 1 to establish an inter-agency task force dedicated to helping provide a safe environment for media workers.
PTFoMS is headed by the Justice Secretary, co-chaired by the PCOO Secretary, with the heads of the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Office of the Solicitor General, Presidential Human Rights Committee, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation, as members.
Egco meanwhile also announced that the task force will hold a webinar series starting March 24 titled “PTFoMS MOVING 4WARD: Safeguarding Press Freedom During The Pandemic And Elections,” which will tackle safety protocols while covering the news during the Covid-19 pandemic and the upcoming 2022 elections, with experts and veteran journalists as resource speakers.