MANILA - The government might give cash aid to 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN Corp which regulators forced to go off air, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Wednesday, as the labor department scrambled to assist hundreds of thousands of other Filipinos who lost their livelihood during the coronavirus pandemic.
ABS-CBN went off air on Tuesday in compliance with a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission, which cited the May 4 expiration of the outfit's franchise. Bills seeking to renew the license had languished in Congress since 2016.
"Baka maipasok po natin sila sa programa ng SMEs para makakuha po sila ng panandaliang 2-buwan na ayuda," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told state-run channel PTV-4.
(We might include them in the program for small and medium-sized enterprises so they can get temporary 2-month aid.)
Some 1.6 million Filipinos affected by the shutdown of businesses due to COVID-19 had applied to get a one-time assistance of P5,000 from the labor department, it said.
The agency said last week it could assist 650,000 workers with internally sourced funds.
"This, however, will leave around 1,000,000 workers still unserved under the special amelioration program. The requests for assistance submitted by their employers had already been processed," it said.
The closure of ABS-CBN during the pandemic is "perhaps not prudent," said Roque.
"Pero ang desisyon po n'yan tanging NTC lang ang puwedeng gumawa," he added.
(But only the NTC can make that decision.)