THE PRESIDENTIAL Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is set to sign an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for a program on media safety and raising the standards of the journalism practice in the country. In a phone interview last Dec. 21, PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Sy Egco said they are aiming to roll out the two-year UNESCO program in early 2019. Mr. Egco said they are now finalizing the agreement terms for the program, which he wants to be “inclusive.” He said, “Everybody should be beneficiaries of this project. So lahat ng (So all) media groups na pwede nating ma (that we can) tap ay merong (will have a) say.” Mr. Egco also said that PTFoMS will team up with UNESCO on reports regarding crimes against media practitioners in the country.
As for the task force’s focus next year, he said they will hold a Press Freedom Caravan nationwide, which will include discussions on the Freedom of Information (FoI) Program contained in Executive Order No. 02 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in July 2016. The audience, he said, are local stakeholders, “mostly media, local government officials kasi may (because we have the) FoI, academe, and civil society groups.” The PTFoMS, he added, will also “seek audience with the UN (United Nations), UNESCO, (and) international watchdogs… for them to understand what is really happening in the country.”
Mr. Egco also vowed that he will resign if none of the suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre will be convicted by the first quarter of 2019. “Within the first quarter of 2019, we expect the promulgation of the case,” he said. “I promised them, if there will be no Ampatuan who will be convicted, I will resign, that’s how confident I am na ang mga (that the) main suspects will be meted the guilty verdict,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin