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DSWD provides assistance to ambushed Remate photojournalist, kin

QUEZON CITY, (PIA) –The Department of Social Welfare & Development’s (DSWD) under its Media Welfare Project is providing assistance to the family of Rene Joshua Abiad, a photojournalist of Remate newspaper who was recently shot by armed men, wounding him and his three companions in Quezon City.

Abiad is currently confined in an undisclosed hospital and undergoing treatment.

Abiad's 4-year-old nephew who was wounded in the attack, died a few days later due to a bullet wound in the head.

Undersecretary for Innovations Edu Punay, also the head of the Media Welfare Project, assured that the DSWD, in coordination with the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) will prioritize the provision of medical assistance for the hospitalization expenses of Abiad and the other victims.

Burial assistance is currently being processed for the family of the 4-year-old victim who passed away.

Usec. Punay said, more than 1,000 members of the media and their families who were in crisis situations had received assistance from the DSWD during the first year of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

The beneficiaries under the DSWD's Media Welfare Project were given hospitalization, medicine, and other forms of assistance to more than 1,000 members of the press including their families, who were in crisis and in need of government support.

DSWD Secretary REX Gatchalian has committed to continue the program aimed at providing immediate support to media members who are considered by the government as partners in nation building and in promoting the welfare of the Filipino people.

“Our goal here is for our friends in media to continue their duties as the public’s source of truthful and timely information. No one can deny the crucial role of media in nation building, while some of them even risk their lives just to fulfill their duties in the society. We can never abandon them during times of crisis, most especially when they are being hospitalized,” Sec. Gatchalian said.

From July 2022 to June 2023, the DSWD provided various forms of assistance to 1,025 journalists, and other media workers, including their families, and non-media referrals, according to Usec.Punay.

“This project is truly a brain-child of President Bongbong Marcos since he was fully aware of the plight of the media and press, as some of them are experiencing illnesses and could not afford hospitalization and medicine expenses.

DSWD Secretary REX Gatchalian commits to continue the program aimed at providing immediate support to media members who are considered by the government as partners in nation building and in promoting the welfare of the Filipino people.

With this program, we can now let them feel that the government cares for their health and welfare,” Usec. Punay, a former journalist himself, said.

The DSWD has earlier forged memoranda of agreement with major media organizations, including the National Press Club (NPC), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), among others.

From the number of assisted members of the media, the DSWD has provided a total of Php 26. 3 million worth of various forms of assistance.

Of the total amount, Php 22.66 million was through the issuance of Guarantee Letter for the payment of hospital bills, dialysis, chemotherapy and other related hospitalization expenses.

The remaining Php 3.64 million were through financial aid for medical expenses of members who have difficulties in procuring expensive maintenance medicines, transportation expenses, and burial assistance for those who have deceased relatives.

On top of the assistance being provided by the DSWD under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program, some members of the press were also referred to the DSWD'S Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) so that they could set up micro and medium enterprises.

For the deceased journalists and media practitioners, their children were granted with educational assistance so they can still remain in school despite the loss of income in their household.

Just last month, following the directives of Sec. Gatchalian, Usec. Punay provided a total of P50,000 to the family of radio broadcaster Cresenciano ‘Cris’ Bundoquin, who was killed by gunmen in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. (dswd/pia-ncr)

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Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

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