Filipino Journalists Face Another Form of Impunity: Violation of Labor Rights

In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.


MANILA – Contrary to perceptions that journalists enjoy glitz and glamour, journalists and media workers suffer the same job insecurity and appalling conditions no different from other Filipino workers.

In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.

Mahinay noted that contractualization in the Philippine media industry has become rampant. The use of in-house manpower agencies owned by the principal employer is one of the latest tactics employed against media workers. Such is the case of the ABS-CBN Internal Job Market (IJM) employees. Despite the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) decision in favor of the workers, the ABS-CBN management did not reinstate the dismissed workers and even continues to retrench them.

Delegates of the NUJP Congress spoke of various work arrangements that violate labor rights such as volunteer reporters, talent and technical staff, correspondents, among others. Some owners of media agencies also deny the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

Journalists suffer from scandalously low remuneration with some being paid per story, per commission, or with very low wages. Benefits such as insurance and hazard pay are rare, if given at all. Journalists are hardly protected from the risks of the job with no protective clothing or insurance.

Mahinay said the Supreme Court and the DOLE are ‘not consistently upholding the law.’

Propose Actions

The Congress adopted a resolution addressing this concern. The NUJP resolved to:

1. ensure the installation of a data base system that would provide the necessary information about the different working conditions of journalists in the different media, regions, and provinces to enable the union to plot out strategies and tactics to promote the rights and welfare of NUJP members,

2. study and make recommendations regarding the most effective and workable form of organization that would promote the rights and welfare of NUJP’s members, in particular, and journalists, in general such as, but not limited to, an industry union, federation, alliance, etc

3. promote education on unionism among NUJP chapters and members through the publication of a primer, the conduct of seminars on unionism and labor rights, among others

4. assist chapters and members in organizing a union and addressing their rights and welfare concerns

5. study and recommend laws, amendments to laws, policies and procedures that shall advance the rights and welfare of journalists

“We should go to the basic of organizing ourselves,” Mahinay told journalists. (

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  1. There is a opinion column written by Journalist Ben Serrano about the real plight of newsmen in the province.

    Serrano pointed out, one, because of the tight monetarial considerations, the mushrooming of pseudo journalists, pseudo publishers who only wanted to publish newspapers to earn easy money just to get publications from courts by which commissions are given to court offices, publications from politicians for free provided all tax delinquents be given to pseudo publishers, the real practice of true journalism are sometimes sacrificed to the times that news including sometimes the TRUTH are becoming FOR SALE.

    Two, it is actually the local publications who are worst violators of plagriasm because they copy and copy news either from internet just to fill up pages after satisfying ads.

    Three, undisciplined radio announcers especially in second and third class cities, provinces who uttered not only dismal lies because of corruptions in media but also unethical words that is bad to hear to children because radio announcers think their power over microphone are absolute and no nobody will ever dare to criticized the abusive, uneducated radio announcers.

    Fourth, because provincial journalists are low paid and not actually protected, the tendency of corruption exist.

    Most of the media killings are in the countryside

    1. So you have highlighted the problem but not made any suggestions as to how to tackle this problem. A free press is the sign of a mature country and a government that has nothing to fear. If there are cases of plagiarism, then the owner needs to sue the violator. There should also be strong warnings from a controlling body that news must be fair and truthful. There is an international journalists code of practice, this needs to be applied by appropriate bodies.

      1. In America, by free, they mean privately owned. Fox News proved how privately owned news corps run disastrous to the public interest. I hope Filipinos concerned with the state of media affairs in the country would think differently. However, media being state-owned won't directly translate to information being at the mercy of the powers-that-be. IMO, truth would only be ensured under the participation of the audience. Not ethical codes that suffer from ambiguities. And yes, I think it would take a cultural revolution to make that happen.

        1. Journalist from Samar:

          I think its unfair for Ben Serrano to accused provincial paper like myself who have a local publication here in Northern Samar as "worst violators of plagiarism."

          Before writing or uttering such a ridiculous accusations Ben Serrano should fist define what "plagiarism" is all about because if his comprehension on "plagiarism" is limited then he has no right to accuse provincial journalists like us of being "worst violators of plagiarism."

          What he did was worst form of a human rights violations pure and simple.

          Yes, indeed, we sometimes pick news story from the internet, however, we always see to it that the author, the page number where picked up such a new story, and the title of the newspaper are always properly acknowledged.

          This kind of system are being done by journalists since time immemorial, and even major newspapers dailies are doing this, look at their newspapers, they sometimes have news coming from other sources like Reuters, from New York Times and yet they are not accused
          of plagiarism.

          Next time Mr. Ben Serrano you should be careful of your criticism and accusations, you are too discriminatory to us provincial journalists!!!

          Kung magsalita ka parang kang hindi taga media!

          Thank you very much.

          Eladio D. Perfecto
          President, Union of Journalists of Northern Samar
          Publisher, Catarman Weekly Tribune, Catarman, N. Samar

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