MAGANES: Hail to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security
One of the most commendable executive actions of President Rodrigo Duterte was the organization of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. It was meant to protect the lives of the media practitioners in the country. Philippines is known worldwide as one of the most dangerous places for journalists who are either killed, tortured and harassed by unscrupulous elements, most of whom are politicians who are the centers of tirades and exposes of corruptions.
In October 2016, President Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 1 creating the said Task Force, and on December 19, he appointed Undersecretary Jose Joel M. Sy Egco as the Executive Director. On November 7, 2016 the operational guidelines of AO No. 1 was adopted by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Communications Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar and Executive Director Egco. The guidelines underwent thorough scrutinies and consultations with media organizations after it was ratified and adopted.
One of the salient features of the operational guidelines is the investigation of old cases and fast tracking the investigations of new cases, prosecuting those involved and requiring speedy trials in the courts where the cases are being heard.
It also directed the creation of local PTFoMS Councils in the provinces and cities where strategic plans to avert media killings will be drafted and adopted. At the provincial and city levels, the provincial state prosecutor shall head the local task force and the provincial director of PNP and designated chiefs of police in the cities and municipalities as the point persons. The local task forces do not have politicians as members. However, media organizations are part of them. We are all aware that many media organizations are under the control of politicians. Many media practitioners are even included in their payrolls.
The operational guidelines give relief to the victims of frustrated murders and harassments among media practitioners. It also gives justice to the families of the killed media victims as the cases will be fully investigated if they are media-related or not. It also gives protection to all legitimate media practitioners. Journalists and broadcasters can now work with ease and focus on their roles as members of the fourth estate.
I am the first victim after the creation of AO No. 1. Luckily, I survived the gun shooting by motorcycle riding in tandem last November 8, a day after the operational guidelines were adopted by the task force. While waiting for the arrest of the suspects, PTFoMS has provided me two police officers who look after my security to avert future possible harm from the “brains” of the shooting incident. While I am that lucky to survive the incident, Larry Que of Catanduanes and Mario Cantaoi of Ilocos Sur died due to their hard-hitting articles and radio commentaries, respectively.
Through this column, I would like to thank PTFoMS Director Egco for his constant coordination with me and in getting information that surround the said incident. I hope with his leadership, media practitioners all over the country will be protected and no untoward incidents against them will be done in the future. However, I call on media colleagues to work hand in hand and be united for the cause of freedom of the press and expression.
After the shooting incident in which I figured in, my first public appearance was when I attended the Barangay Night of Villasis Town Fiesta last January 17 at the Public Auditorium. I did not know that many village officials would be happy to see me. They approached me in groups and provided me words of inspiration and well-wishes. While many of them commiserate with me. I also noticed that several village chiefs were not that happy to see me alive. From a distance, I saw a village chief who gave me perturbed glances and even pointed his fingers towards me. That village official is known to be close to the power that be at the Capitol. I don’t know if he has been a part of the sinister plan to kill me, but his ways and actions indicate that he has knowledge on it. That will be known in the future as the PTFoMS is eyeing all possible angles on my foiled assassination.
Speaking of the Barangay Night, I noticed that it lacked the luster that it used to be in previous celebrations. Village officials were busy drinking liquors while the community people danced in gusto with their hired “dance instructors”. Some told me that they were peeved by the long political speeches from which all you can hear were the “thank yous” for electing them in power last election. I was itching to hear development programs planned for Villasis but unluckily I heard nothing but blah-blahs.
The saving grace was the message of Villasis Mayor Nato Abrenica. He briefed the village officials and community people on what transpired during the mayors’ meeting with President Duterte in Malacañang Palace. He said Duterte urged them to help him fight illegal drugs in their turfs and lead lives of moderation on their vices. As a response to that call of the president, Mayor Abrenica was planning to launch a barangay-based program against illegal drugs where every village must be drug cleared. The program is tentatively dubbed as “Diskarte ni Kapitan, Droga ay Labanan”. The mechanics of the program might already be in the drawing board of the “think-tanks” of Mayor Abrenica who is known for launching barangay-based programs that are successful like the “Masagana Program” where villages are encouraged to make their communities clean and green. Well, that night winners of 2016 Masagana Program were announced.
I am now ready for my public appearances and continue my media work. I attended and covered the Talong Festival on January 20 and the Balikbayan and Coronation Night on January 21. Talong Festival that drew many audiences annually has ceased to be the come-ons of the 9-day town fiesta. It was not well-attended by balikbayans and community people despite the coverage by “Umagang Kay Ganda” of ABS-CBN. Maybe, the municipal government of Villasis will now think of other activities during the Talong Festival to elicit more community participation and to capture nationwide, if not world wide attention.
I am congratulating the Executive Committee headed by Vice Mayor Jesus Franco Sison for a job well done. The 9-day fiesta celebration was peaceful and loaded with many activities to the townspeople delight.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com.)
Entry filed under: News.