Press Release
July 20, 2010

Zubiri seeks mandatory additional insurance
for field journalists, media workers

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri has sought the provision of a mandatory additional insurance coverage and benefits for journalists and employees of media entities out on field assignment.

Zubiri has proposed Senate Bill No. 160 or the "Journalists Insurance Act of 2010" in the midst of the rising number of local journalists killed, especially from the provinces, in relation to the discharge of their duties.

"In addition to the killing of radio commentators for the last two months, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has totaled 140 journalists and employees of media entities sent out to various assignments and freelance journalists killed since 1986, of which 104 were killed from 2001 to present," Zubiri noted.

Zubiri said there is a need to give the victims and their families immediate assistance from government and the management of media outfits.

He said that on top of the existing insurance benefits from the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Insurance System (GSIS), field journalists and media workers should also be given the following:

  • Death Benefits of P200,000 for all mass media practitioners and employees on field assignment who shall perish in line of duty;

  • Disability benefits of up to P200,000 for all mass media practitioners who shall suffer total or partial disability, whether permanent or temporary, arising from any injury sustained in the line of duty; and

  • Reimbursement of actual medical expenses up to but not to exceed P100, 000 for all mass media practitioners and employees on field assignment who shall be hospitalized or who shall require medical attendance for injuries sustained while in the line of duty.

The proposed measure also mandates the media entities to pay the premium of the insurance policy including the option to choose the insurance company to enroll its qualified employees.

Zubiri said members of the so-called "Fourth Estate" should be given mandatory additional insurance benefits in recognition of their courage and sacrifice.

He said the proposed Mandatory Additional Insurance Benefits will apply not only to permanent journalist employees, but also to temporary, contractual and casual journalists employed by all existing media outfits in the country, including freelance journalists.

Likewise, the proposed Journalists Insurance Act of 2010 defines media entities as newspapers, radio, television and internet companies involved in the dissemination of news and information for public consumption and are duly accredited by any reputable media organization or association but not limited to the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Office of the Press Secretary (PIA-OPS), National Press Club (NPC), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or any other government agency.

However, agencies such as the PIA-OPS, NPC, NUJP and KBP will offer the opportunity for freelance journalists to secure additional insurance coverage before working on war zones or dangerous areas.

SB 160 recommended a fine of not less than P200,000 but not more than P500,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years or both fine and imprisonment depending on the discretion of the court if any of the following prohibition are committed: refusal by a media entity to provide additional insurance coverage; refusal by insurance company to enroll journalists, employees of media entities on field assignment and freelance journalists on account of the nature of their work; and non-compliance with the rules and regulations that the GSIS, SSS, Insurance Commission (IC) and OPS-PIA shall adopt for the implementation of this Act.

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