By Liza Soriano
MANILA — Deputy Speaker and Las Pinas Rep. Camille Villar has filed a bill seeking to mandate the provision of additional social safety nets for journalists.
Under House Bill 6543, it aims to provide disability, health, and hospitalization benefits to all practicing journalists, emphasizing the need to safeguard the welfare of journalists in their news coverage.
“During important assignments, journalists face the most dangerous situations like typhoons, disasters, floods, riots, war, and conflicts, to name a few, in order to deliver the news to the public,” Villar said.
The lawmaker added that some frontline journalists “accept field assignments bringing only their passion sans insurance or hazard pay although they risk their lives in the name of journalism.”
Whether they are employed by media organizations in the Philippines on a permanent, temporary, contractual, or casual basis, all professional journalists are entitled under the law to insurance, tax-exempt hazard pay, and other incentives.
The Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) are required to develop special coverage for freelance journalists, especially when they are covering war zones, conflict-affected regions, and disaster-affected areas.
Freelance journalists are also entitled to insurance benefits.
Journalists on the field assignments are also entitled to disability benefits.
“It is time that journalists deserve the respect not only for the type of work that they are doing but also in the form of benefits that are long overdue. While some may not enjoy decent wages, it is necessary that journalists enjoy these perks as they have families that rely on them,” Villar said.