'Hindi kami makatulog': ABS-CBN workers union pleads with House to expedite franchise hearings

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2020 08:52 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2020 12:59 AM

'Hindi kami makatulog': ABS-CBN workers union pleads with House to expedite franchise hearings 1
ABS-CBN employees and press freedom advocates light candles in front of the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City on June 5, 2020, a month after the network's free tv channels and radio stations went off the air due to the expiration of its franchise. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The employees' union of ABS-CBN Corp on Wednesday again pleaded with the leadership of the House of Representatives to fast-track the hearing on the networks' franchise bills.

"Sa bawat araw, linggo o buwan po na lumilipas na walang kasiguruhan ang aming trabaho ay katumbas po ng gabi-gabi na hindi kami makatulog sa pangamba," the union said in a statement.

"Sobrang bigat po ng kalooban naming mga manggagawa, lalo na po sa panahong ito na may pandemya. Marami sa amin ang naapektuhan na rin ang pag-iisip sa labis na pag-aalala."

ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries employ around 11,000 workers.

Lamenting the pace of the hearings, which began May 26, the union appealed to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Rep. Franz Alvarez of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, and Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of the House Committee on Good Government to expedite the deliberations.

"Sana po ay madinig ninyo ang aming mga iyak at pagmamakaawa, pati na rin ng aming mga mahal sa buhay," the union said.

"Sana po ay maramdaman n'yo po ang lungkot na aming nararamdaman."

ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo L. Katigbak said in a Senate hearing last month that the company is "considering" retrenching workers by August if unable to resume its broadcast operation soon.

The media network has been losing P30-35 million in advertising revenues daily since the National Telecommunications Commission forced it off air on May 5 due to its expired franchise.

The last two hearings have centered on the citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III.

Lawmakers opposed to granting ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise allege that the company violated the Constitution when it had Lopez at its helm and allowed him to own shares because he was both a Filipino and an American.

Officials of the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission said in the last hearing that dual citizens are 100 percent Filipino, and entitled to own businesses that the Constitution limits to Filipino citizens.

The Constitution states ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines.

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