Press group asks Senate to act on bill giving journalists security of tenure

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The National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) over the weekend has asked the Senate to act on the long-pending proposed law granting security of tenure and other benefits due to the members of the press.

In a statement, NPC president Paul Gutierrez said the House of Representatives’ version of the Media Workers’ Welfare Act (MWWA) has been in the Senate for months now after it was forwarded to the Senate for action.

“Members of the press have made their sentiment of dismay coursed thru the NPC be known that up to now, the proposal remains languishing at the Senate Committee on Labor headed by Senator Joel Villanueva,” Gutierrez said.

“Indeed, we are disappointed that while the Senate can allocate as much time as it wants to investigate perceived corruption in the executive branch actively participated by most of our senators, the single bill addressing the decades-old problems afflicting the media sector like the security of tenure and granting of benefits provided for by law continues to gather cobwebs in the chamber,” he added.

The neglect by Villanueva’s committee, he said, is more glaring considering that no less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III authored the Senate version of the bill under Senate Bill 8120 that Sotto filed more than one year ago, on Sept. 9, 2020.

Through the effort of ACT-CIS Party-list representative and former broadcast journalist, Niña Taduran, the MWWA, under HB 2476, was unanimously passed by Congress last Jan. 18, 2021. It has not moved since being transmitted to the Senate, especially in the Labor Committee chaired by Villanueva.

“Due to the critical role that members of the press played, especially during this period of the pandemic where many in our rank not only contracted Covid-19 but also died from it in the performance of their duty as journalists, the least that our lawmakers can do is to be also considerate by passing a measure that is long overdue,” Gutierrez said.

“We are therefore again appealing to the sense of fairness of our senators for the expeditious deliberation and passage of the media workers welfare bill,” the NPC official added.

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