THE National Press Club (NPC) has appealed before the Senate to enact as law the long-sought bill proposed to grant security of tenure and benefits to members of the press.
NPC Chair Paul Gutierrez said that the Media Workers’ Welfare Act (MWWA) version of the House of Representatives has already been submitted to the Senate but the latter is yet to pass the bill since then.
“It has been several months now since the House version of the Media Workers’ Welfare Act has been forwarded to the Senate for action. Members of the press have made their sentiment of dismay coursed through the NPC be known that up to now, the proposal remains languishing at the Senate Committee on Labor headed by Sen. Joel Villanueva,” Gutierrez shared in a statement.
The press association further underscored that the bill, which seeks to raise benefits for the media has been hanging for a long time due to the alleged negligence of the Senate to focus more on its probe against corruption.
“The single bill addressing the decades-old problems afflicting the media sector like security of tenure and granting of benefits provided for by law continues to gather cobwebs in the chamber,” he added.
Gutierrez further noted that the failure of Villanueva’s committee to act on the media bill is “more glaring”—knowing that Senate President Vicente Sotto III has authored the Senate version of the bill otherwise known as Senate Bill 8120 and filed way back September 9, 2020.
Under House Bill 2476, the MWWA House version authored by ACT-CIS party-list representative and former broadcast journalist Rep. Niña Taduran was unanimously passed by Congress on January 18, 2021.
The NPC president expressed that there is a need to swiftly pass the bill in a critical moment where fatalities caused by COVID-19 has far-reaching effects on journalists, on top of possibly contracting the virus in the performance of their duty.
“The least that our lawmakers can do is to be also considerate by passing a measure that is long overdue. We are therefore again appealing to the sense of fairness of our senators for the expeditious deliberation and passage of the media workers welfare bill,” Gutierrez added.
The passage of the aforementioned measure will ensure the provision of minimum wages, benefits, allowances, and security of tenure after the probationary six-month long continuous work period of media workers—provided that it is pursuant to the law enacted for laborers.
Benefits that media employees would obtain and shall be covered include Social Security System (SSS), the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or the Pag-IBIG Fund, and from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).