By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
In a statement sent to the Philippine Muslim Today, PTFoMS Executive Director Usec. Joel Sy Egco said that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that the IATF approved the final group of persons in the Priority Group A4 of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan which now includes “frontline workers in private and government news media.”
“The inclusion of media workers in the A4 priority group highlights President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of safeguarding press freedom by protecting the life, liberty, and security of our media workers. We recognized the support of the IATF especially Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, Testing Czar Secretary Vince Dizon and of course Senator Bong Go and Secretary Martin Andanar who pushed to include media workers in the priority list,” Usec Egco said.
It should be recalled that the PTFoMS, through Usec. Egco and PTFoMS Co-Chairman and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Sec. Andanar, sent a letter addressed to Sec. Galvez petitioning the IATF for the inclusion of media workers among the A4 priority group.
In the letter, Egco pointed out that “much like the work being done by our health workers in saving the lives of our countrymen, the Philippine media have been indispensable in the fight by bringing important and life-saving information to the people regarding the virus and the measures put in place to stop the disease pursuant to the guidelines and advisories issued by the IATF.”
“Media workers have risked their lives in order to bring the latest news and information to the Filipino people about the virus and its effects. However, as part of the so-called “frontliners”, they are inevitably exposed to health risks and hazards while they are fulfilling their duty to bring the news to the people,” the palace official added.
Andanar and Egco said they both echo the previous call of Senator Go that “the media should also be given priority once the safe and effective vaccines are available so that (they) can continue with (their) work of covering and bringing news to our countrymen.”
Aside from media workers, also included in the Priority Group A4 list are commuter transport (land, air, and sea), including logistics; public and private wet and dry market vendors; frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services; workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products; frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery; frontline workers in private and government financial services; and frontline workers in hotels and accommodation establishments.
President Duterte created PTFoMS through Administrative Order No. 1 in 2016 with a mandate of promoting the welfare of media workers. JIJ