By Reynard Magtoto
Various media groups reject outright the proposal of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security ( PTFMS) to regulate the profession in the guise of a “Magna Carta”.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urges all colleagues as well as media owners to unite in opposing the threat to freedom of the press and of expression.
“We maintain that journalism is an extension of freedom of expression and serves the people’s sacrosanct right to the information they need to make decisions about their individual and collective lives,” NUJP stated in a press statement.
Its national directorate said that it “cannot allow government – this or any other – the opportunity to meddle in any way not only in the profession that serves as the people’s watchdog against official abuse but in any other matter that may endanger freedom of the press and of expression, and the people’s sacred right to know.”
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) even stated the recent move of PTFMS is a misguided attempt to address the current situation of the Philippine press by a politically erratic regime known for its pseudo-journalists, trolls, fake news and manipulation of public opinion.
CEGP added the constitutional freedom under Section 4, Article III of the Philippine Constitution guarantees our right to freely utter and publish our judgment and opinion without restriction or interference for as long as it is found not injurious to a third person with a right recognized by law or is not contrary to law.
However, SunStar Baguio reported that PTFMS Executive Director Joel Egco as saying the proposed measure would seek to professionalize journalism through qualifying and classifying exams.
“If you want to become a media personality, you will have to take an exam every six months to assess your qualification which would set either a managerial position or a corresponding salary level or grade equivalent to that of government,” Egco was quoted as saying.
“Question is would this be automatic once passed? This would still depend on private media owners but with the qualifying exam, journalist can now be qualified as a level 1, 2 or 3 journalist and depending on the vacant position to be applied, the journalist can now for example apply for a reportorial position which is level 2 while obtaining a level 1 qualification,” Egco was also quoted in the report.
The group do not question the intent of Usec Egco. But the proposed “Magna Carta,” which goes so far as to set salary grades depending on “competency,” is fraught with danger, not least of all allowing government to determine who can or cannot be a journalist, which is totally anathema to a profession that can thrive only in independence according to NUJP.
“It smothers our moral and intellectual development by weeding out “incompetent” and “unethical journalists” based on the standards set by the state whose biases and sensibilities are geared towards the creation of state-sponsored fake news that dumb down the toiling masses,” Jose Mari Callueng,
CEGP national president said.
“The Magna Carta would also infringe on the rights of media owners and managers to determine who to employ,” NUJP stated.
This was not the first time the NUJP, along with other media and free expression advocates, has consistently opposed and thwarted all such attempts that regulates, even licensing, journalists in the country.
The desperate attempt of the Duterte regime to repress any opposition to its interest will never be forgotten according to Callueng. (BaretangBikolnon.com)