Journalists trooped to the National Press Club (NPC) in Intramuros, Manila to apply for licenses to own firearms, a program supported by the government to ensure their safety.
Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), was on hand to supervise the one-day event — a one stop shop to secure License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF) and Permit to Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PCFOR).
“Many journalists are complaining of difficulty of securing firearm license. That’s the reason why we have this activity, a one-stop shop to apply for your LTOPF and PCFOR. One thing more, we now have a liaison officer who will help us with the Firearms and Explosive Office based in Camp Crame,” Egco said.
Journalists underwent neuro-examination and drug tests right at the NPC building, aside from applying for National Bureau of Investigation clearance.
Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, who was guest of honor and event speaker, said President Rodrigo Duterte was concerned for the safety of journalists.
“In fact, his very first Administrative Order No.1 creating PTFoMS. He values the security of the media. So far, under the Duterte administration, we have only one validated media-related killing,” said Gatpayat, referring to the murder of Larry Que, owner of Catanduanes-based newspaper, on Dec. 19, 2016.
A murder case is now pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua who allegedly was the mastermind behind the killing.
The DOJ has yet to rule on the case.
There are currently 800 registered NPC members.
Egco, in his six-month accomplishment report to the President last May, said the latest survey of The Press Freedom Index, where the Philippines ranked 127th, was an 11-notch improvement from its previous position in 2016 (138th). The Philippines latest ranking is the fourth “steepest improvement” among 180 countries worldwide, it said.
The Task Force, added Egco, has significantly improved media workers security under the Duterte administration, owing largely to the proactive measures that were now in place, including the activity on Friday.
Asked what situations would journalists usually find themselves in, the former senior reporter of The Manila Times cited threats, harassment and physical assault, among others.