It is a critical time for media and journalists in the Philippines and critical times call for critical measures. On 22 November, a broad coalition of media stakeholders from across the country will launch the first national Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists (PPASJ) – also the first of its kind in the world.
The plan, developed through multi-stakeholder consultations with media, government, academia, and local and international press freedom organizations, provides a roadmap for addressing five concrete flagship areas deemed crucial to improving the safety of journalists and the media environment in the Philippines over five years from 2020-2024.
Since 1986, the Philippines has been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. There have been 165 work-related cases of journalist killings and frequent reports of physical and digital attacks and threats.
“Crafting the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists gives us a sense of optimism that we can address the scourges of press freedom in the country. Not to plan is to surrender our fate. Not to plan should not be an option for the Philippines and many other countries worldwide experiencing similar challenges,” says Ramon Tuazon, president of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.
“The stakeholders we’ve worked with in developing the PPASJ may represent diverse interests and backgrounds, but we have a common goal: to safeguard press freedom in the Philippines. In the process of crafting the plan, we sought to break down the walls between sectors and within sectors at the national and community levels,” he adds.
Mr. Thomas Wiersing, Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, congratulates the journalists for having crafted the First National Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.
“The European Union is committed to promoting free and fair media in the world including in the Philippines by providing funding and support for targeted projects that promote quality journalism, press freedom and access to public information. The EU will continue using all appropriate means possible to respect and protect freedom of expression and to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers,” said Mr. Wiersing.
The PPASJ was developed under the Safeguarding Press Freedom in the Philippines Project funded by the European Union and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and implemented by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and International Media Support (IMS). IMS and AIJC forged partnerships with Filipino media organizations to form the Journalist Safety Advisory Group (JSAG), which helped develop the PPASJ and will monitor its implementation, moving forward.
“With this plan, the Philippines is showing other countries in which media face similar serious circumstances, that it is possible to bring together journalist communities and stakeholders from other sectors and government to agree on a joint response to the safety of journalists,” says Lars Bestle, IMS Head of Asia Department.
As the media stakeholders drive forward the PPASJ, they can derive inspiration from lessons learned on journalist safety globally since the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was launched in 2012 by UNESCO, the United Nations agency with the mandate to promote the UN Plan.
“UNESCO fully supports the creation of the Philippine National Plan of Action. It is a positive development for the country to ensure public interest journalism can continue to thrive in the Philippines,” says Ming Kuok Lim, Advisor for Communication and Information, UNESCO Jakarta.
For more information about the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Manila launch on 22 November, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or www.mediasupport.org.