Press Release
February 6, 2008

Senate bats for journalists' welfare plan,
eyes stronger Philippine Information Agency

Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a bill seeking to establish a national welfare program for journalists and other media practitioners.

Under Senate Bill (SB) 1083, the welfare program would be administered and managed by the state-run Philippine Information Agency (PIA). An initial P10 million would be set aside by Congress to support the program's welfare fund.

Legarda stressed the need for Congress to provide meaningful benefits that would promote the financial independence and economic security of media practitioners and discourage corruption by news sources.

Legarda's bill also seeks to build up the PIA, which was created by Executive Order 100, issued by then President Aquino on December 24, 1996.

Legarda said she envisions the PIA as an institution that would provide adequate continuing education training programs for both print and broadcast media practitioners.

"We also want the PIA to help develop provincial, city, municipal and community information officers as well as freelance and campus journalists," Legarda said.

Under SB 1083, the drawing up and implementation of the welfare program for media practitioners would be added to the functions of the PIA.

The PIA would promulgate the guidelines for the disbursement of the welfare fund.

Aid out of the welfare fund would be in the form of, but not limited to, free legal assistance, group health and life insurance coverage, as well as hospitalization and disability benefits.

Journalists may also seek the partial refund of tuition paid for dependent children, obtain discounts in the purchase of reference materials and seed money for the putting up of media credit cooperatives.

Qualified beneficiaries would be selected by the PIA in cooperation with duly organized media organizations.

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