Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez. (PNA file photo)

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is set to forge an agreement with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to classify violence against journalists during election period as an “election offense.”

In a statement on Friday, PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez said he expects the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the poll body as early as next month.

Gutierrez said the MOA would be in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s goal to create a safe environment for the country’s press, especially with the upcoming 2025 midterm elections.

“Himself a former broadcast journalist, (Comelec) Chairman (George) Garcia is keenly aware of the threats that our journalists face especially during the elections when tensions are high,” Gutierrez said.

“I am pleased to note of the good chairman’s offer to exercise the power of the Comelec to warn candidates, political parties and their supporters that any attempt to stifle the country’s press from performing its mandate during the election period would be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” he added.

Aside from classifying threats, harassment, physical attacks and other forms of violence, as “election offenses,” Gutierrez said both sides would also create a reporting mechanism that would be used by the Comelec in swiftly addressing election-related incidents brought to its attention by the PTFoMS.

“Moving forward, we can view this MOA as an initiative that would send a strong message to the public and the international community that the Philippines is committed to protecting press freedom and upholding democratic values and creating an informed citizenry,” Gutierrez said.

The PTFoMS also urged the poll body to be part of the media safety summits it has been organizing all over the country to drive home the point that the entire government is on board when it comes to upholding and protecting the rights of the members of the press. (PNA)