Statement of the Commission on Human Rights launching the Alisto! Alert Mechanism to support the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, as part of the National Press Week celebration

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights launching the Alisto! Alert Mechanism to support the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, as part of the National Press Week celebration

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is set to formally launch the Alisto! Alert Mechanism, its own initiative for notifying cases of alleged human rights violations experienced by media workers as part of its celebration of the National Press Week this year to recognize the fundamental role that media workers hold in keeping the Philippine democracy rooted in truth and justice and ensuring the free flow of evidence-based information in the society.

As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR is committed to take a more active stance in contributing to improving media welfare in the country as a priority initiative of Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc. Thus, this alert mechanism is envisioned to bring forth a platform for the press to directly contact the CHR regarding incidents where media workers are involved.

This is part of the CHR’s goal to map out how it can take part in the full implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists (PPASJ) by identifying measures that the Commission may perform to further protect media workers. With the blueprint of the PPASJ and its flagship area on safety and protection mechanisms in mind, the CHR developed the Alisto! Alert Mechanism to provide a concrete platform where it may directly respond to the attacks and threats against media workers.

“The role of media in our society cannot be overstated. The media—you—serve as a beacon of truth, a guardian of democracy, and a powerful catalyst for change. In its noblest form, the media acts as a check and balance on those in power, holding them accountable for their actions. It is, in many ways, the lifeblood of democracy,” according to Chairperson Palpal-latoc during the National Media Forum, where the Alisto! Alert Mechanism was initially introduced.

The Commission spearheaded its very first National Media Forum last 27 October 2023 to provide an avenue for the open discussion of issues and challenges confronting the press. During the forum, representatives from various media groups took part in exploring possible options together toward improving media welfare. CHR, on its part, discussed the efforts it has already extended towards addressing issues related to media welfare such as investigating cases of alleged human rights violations committed against the press, working with legislators on policies and laws, educating the public, and initiating dialogue with different media groups, organisations, and government agencies.

It must be noted that the National Media Forum is a culmination of smaller media sessions that the Commission has organised in early 2023, where media workers were also invited to surface issues and concerns which hinder them from fully performing their duties in upholding the truth.

We also extend our call to the government to also address the challenges which concern media workers and to provide adequate mechanisms that may pave the way towards ensuring a safer environment in their line of work. We stress the need to confront the factors which breed a climate of impunity in the country and imperil the lives of journalists. More than ever, the CHR is always ready to take part in this process to ensure that our fourth estate remains to be a pillar foundational to our democracy.

We echo the sentiments of Filipino journalists that attacks against the media has long been an existing reality that is left unaddressed in the Philippines. In a time where it is now apparent that the defenders of truth also need defending, the conversation on fostering a safe working environment for journalists should also be making headlines on our screens as we scroll through the news and commentaries. It is important to the CHR, after all, that the media has been our constant partner in fulfilling our mandate in promoting the rights of all Filipinos.###

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Erratum: The National Media Forum was held on 27 October 2023, instead of 27 November 2023. The press statement has been edited to reflect the correct date. CHR shall ensure accuracy in all facts being cited in all of our releases. Thank you for your feedback.