MANILA — The Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media submitted on Thursday to the Office of the President a detailed report, including all documents, on all existing cases of violence against media workers in compliance with the directives of President Rodrigo R. Duterte under Administrative Order No. 1.
Task Force Executive Director Joel Egco turned over the documents to Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra in simple ceremonies held at the Premier Guest House in Malacañang.
Present during the turnover rites were representatives from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI), the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP).
Egco said that as per AO No. 1, the task force was directed to conduct an inventory of all cases of violence against media workers committed by state and non-state forces from all government agencies as well as non-government sources, specifically independent and non-partisan international and national human rights organizations and groups.
The Task Force was also directed to submit a detailed report within the first 30 days of its creation.
AO No. 1 was signed by President Duterte on Oct. 11, 2016.
The documents submitted by the Task Force were placed in two boxes that contained all necessary data on all existing unsolved and pending cases of violence against media under the PNP Task Force Usig and AO No. 35 of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
“We have also included recent cases of incidents of violence against the media like the alleged assassination attempt of a broadcast journalist in Pangasinan,” Egco said.
He said that the task force had also included data coming from the media as part of a move to further expand the sources of information.
“We would now harmonize all the data to come up with the guidelines that would enable us to act effectively on all the cases,” Egco said.
Meanwhile, Guevarra said that the turnover of the report is not the end-product of the task force but only the beginning.
“After the inventory of all the cases, the task force would now act into these cases with priority given to unsolved cases. For pending cases or those undergoing trial in the various courts, the main concern of the task force is to ensure that investigations or court proceedings are actually moving to our satisfaction,” he said.
As provided in AO NO. 1, the task force would designate a special team of investigators and prosecutors for the speedy probe of new cases on media killings.
It also provides that the task force should facilitate the protection of witnesses on media killings in accordance with Republic Act No. 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
The Order also mandates that after six months, the task force “shall submit a report to the President, detailing the inventory of cases according to category, and describing the accomplishments and progress made for each case, or the problems and obstacles encountered, highlighting the problematic cases, with further recommendations for any additional action that may be taken.”
Guevarra said they are hoping that the work of the task force would curb the incidence of violence against media in the future.
“We would like to assure everyone concerned, especially our friends in the media, that this is not just a ceremonial act, this is something that the administration has decided to really work on,” he said.
“AO No. 1 shows the importance that the present administration is giving and the concern that it has on existing acts of violence against media workers. This is one of President Duterte’s top priorities,” Guevarra said. Cielito Reganit/PNA-northboundasia.com