President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an administrative order creating a presidential task force that will address the killing of journalists, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President signed on Tuesday Administrative Order (AO) No. 1 “creating the presidential task force on violations of the right to life, liberty, and security of the members of the media.”
Andanar said the task force was formed to put an end to “all forms of political violence and abuses of power against the members of the so-called Fourth Estate.”
“The present Administration declares a matter of policy that all of these forms of political violence and abuses of powers, whether by agents or elements of the State or of non-State forces against the members of the so-called Fourth Estate, must stop, and towards this end, commits to establish a government-wide program of action where the whole system of the bureaucracy is involved in the efficient, coherent, and comprehensive resolution of unsolved cases of violence in the form of killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons against the members of the press,” Andanar said.
The task force shall conduct an inventory of cases of media killings within 30 days, including unsolved cases, cases under investigation, those under trial or under appeal.
The task force is also expected to monitor and provide assistance to members of the media who are covering “areas under military operations, armed conflict.”
“If you are threatened anywhere be that online or on the ground, it’s still a threat. And it still violates your security and your right to have a good life, liberty and security as mentioned in this Administrative Order…. You can report it to us,” Andanar told Palace reporters.
Under the AO, the task force will be headed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd with Andanar as co-chairman.
The members of the panel are Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueño, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Ricardo Visaya, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, and the executive director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee.
Andanar said the task force will hold a meeting after Duterte’s scheduled visit to China on October 19 to 21.
Invited observers and resource persons are the chairmen of the Commission on Human Rights, the Ombudsman, president of the National Press Club, president of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, president of the Publishers of the Associations of the Philippines Inc., and the Philippine Press Institute.
According to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture, the Philippines ranked third in the world with the most journalists killed in the line of duty.
Duterte’s order repealed former President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s AO No. 35 creating an inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE