A party-list member of the House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Senate to pass the proposed Media Workers’ Welfare Act before the present Congress adjourns sine die.
Rowena Niña Taduran of the party-list ACT-CIS, said “it is crucial for the protection and security of all workers in the media industry.”
Taduran said the enactment of the measure for media workers is long overdue as more journalists were being exploited and left unprotected especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many workers in the media are literally gripping at the straws during the pandemic. There are employers who fired media workers or decreased their salaries, using the pandemic as justification,” she said. There are those who work without contracts due to the lack of a law that protects them),” Taduran said.
She said media workers continued performing their jobs at the height of the pandemic and during the election period even without adequate protection.
“The government, through the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, has been extending support to media workers, especially in following up cases of violence against media workers. But this is not enough as media workers need more protection as they perform their duties. They do not even have insurance to cover their lives and health,” Taduran said.
House Bill 8140, sponsored by Taduran at the House of Representatives, has reached second reading in the Senate (Senate Bill 1820), with the Senate version sponsored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
With a few days left for the 18th Congress, Taduran pleaded with the Upper Chamber to urgently pass the bill.
“Let us not forget the Fourth Estate—the bearer of information even in the face of danger. Let us take care and respect those working in the media,” she said.
“I am pleading the Upper House to remember the media workers who contribute a lot in the dissemination of information. I hope they will pass the Media Workers’ Welfare Bill so it can be signed by the President into law,” Taduran said.
Taduran was one of the first legislators to file a bill at the start of the 18th Congress with the Media Workers’ Welfare Bill as her initial proposal.
Under the bill, all media workers will be given wages mandated by law, enjoy security of tenure, will be accorded the hazard pay of ₱500 for every day of work in a dangerous area, overtime pay plus insurance and other benefits.
They will also be provided with safety gear such as bulletproof vest, medical grade protective equipment and others.
Employers will be required to provide additional insurance coverage to media workers, aside from the Social Security System, PAG-IBIG and PhilHealth. They will have to provide an insurance which guarantees death benefit of PHP 200, 000, disability benefit of PHP 200, 000 and medical insurance benefit of P 100, 000.
The media owners will be liable for all contents released under their name.