Puerto Rico press coordinator position proposed in event of disasters
SAN JUAN – New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Michael Abid Quiñones Irizarry filed a measure that seeks to establish that the Government of Puerto Rico, in the event of an emergency such as hurricane or earthquake, appoint a special coordinator to activate the mechanisms needed to enable the press to inform the citizenry.
House Bill 1331, if approved, would create the “Law to Guarantee and Protect Members of the Press in an Emergency Declaration,” as well as the press coordinator post, whose duty would be to provide the equipment the press would need to carry out its work within the context of the emergency the government faces during disasters.
The government would also have to reserve a space for the press where its members are provided reasonable space to carry out their work freely and with access to technology that can effectively be used to disseminate information. The space must have potable water, electricity, internet, printers and other services requested of the coordinator.
“We went through what happened when Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico, when some media outlets had to operate from the Government Command Center, in the Convention Center facilities, because their facilities sustained great damage. The work of the press must continue, unimpeded, in times of crisis. That is why we filed this measure, to make it easier for them to inform the people without interruptions,” the representative for Utuado, Lares, Adjuntas and Jayuya said in a written statement.
“The month of September 2017 will be marked in history with the destruction suffered by our Island. In the face of the collapse of the electric power service and communications, we witnessed the uncertainty caused by misinformation. To that end, the purpose of this legislative measure is to ensure that members of the press, within the circumstances, can work in a designated space with all the necessary instruments and equipment to communicate to the people of Puerto Rico the necessary information to eliminate the uncertainty,” Quiñones Irizarry wrote.