Media groups reject a proposal to regulate mass media through a so-called Magna Carta for journalists, as announced by a Malacañan official Friday.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) rejected outright the proposal of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to regulate the profession “in the guise of a “Magna Carta.”
In reaction to a speech by PTFoMS executive director Joel Egco in Baguio City Friday, the groups said it was not the first time that such a measure is being proposed, which they have consistently opposed.
SunStar-Baguio reported 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.
Egco was addressing Northern Luzon journalists who attended a seminar on media safety protocols developed by the PTFoMS in light of the continuing threats against media workers.
He said that professionalizing the ranks of journalists by classifying them into three levels would lessen threats against them.
“With the qualifying exam, journalists can now be qualified as a level 1, 2 or 3, and depending on the vacant position to be applied, they can now for example apply for a reportorial position which is level 2 while obtaining a level 1 qualification,” Egco said.
Saying that while it does not question Egco’s intent, the NUJP, however, said the proposed “Magna Carta,” which goes so far as to set salary grades depending on “competency,” is fraught with danger.
The group added that the proposal would allow the government to determine who can or cannot be a journalist, which is totally anathema to a profession that can thrive only in independence.
The CEGP for its part said the proposed Magna Carta is a misguided attempt by President Rodrigo Duterte’s “politically erratic regime, known for its pseudo-journalists, trolls, fake news and manipulation of public opinion.”
The student journalists said that the Duterte government is in no position to dictate on the media since its own “biases and sensibilities are geared towards the creation of state-sponsored fake news that dumb down the toiling masses.”
A Philippine Press Institute officer, meanwhile, said on a social media post that their group has already rejected the so-called Magna Carta a long time ago.
“’Levelling’ has nothing to do with quality of journalism. We should [instead] care for the following: welfare and protection, ethical practice, and truth-telling,” PPI executive director Ariel Sabellino said.
The NUJP added it cannot allow government the opportunity to meddle in any way in the profession and urged journalists as well as media owners to unite in opposing what it called a clear threat to freedom of the press and of expression. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)