Specter of job loss during pandemic haunts 11,000 ABS-CBN employees

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 06:25 PM

FILE ABS-CBN employees and press freedom advocates join the solidarity gathering outside the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City, Feb. 21, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA--A congresswoman on Tuesday called on her colleagues to consider the thousands of jobs to be lost, which would add to the pandemic-driven "employment crisis," should they reject ABS-CBN's application for a new broadcast franchise.

Parañaque City Rep. Joy Tambunting noted that the House of Representatives was finding ways to minimize unemployment resulting from the coronavirus lockdowns.

But withholding a new 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN would take away the livelihood of more than 11,000 employees, she said.

"We are in the middle of an unprecedented employment crisis in our country. The greatest labor problem is unemployment," she told a joint House Committee hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise application. 

Around 7.3 million Filipinos lost their jobs as of April, Philippine Statistics Authority data showed.

Four million more workers were expected to go jobless by the end of the year because of the pandemic, Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III told a Senate hearing last week.

ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak earlier said that retrenchment might start next month, with the company losing P30 million to P35 million in daily revenues.

"Mahirap talagang maghanap ng trabaho sa panahon ng pandemya. Yun po ang bumabagabag sa mga puso nila," Cory Vidanes, ABS-CBN's chief operating officer for broadcast, told the congressmen, citing the sentiments of 11,000 workers, who might lose their jobs.

(It's difficult to look for jobs in the time of the pandemic. That's what is troubling them.)

Said Tambunting: "Masakit na makita ang ating mga kababayan na walang trabaho. Lahat tayo dito sa Kongreso ay naghahanap ng paraan para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan na walang trabaho dahil sa COVID-19 crisis."

(It's painful to see our countrymen without jobs. All of us here in Congress are looking for ways to help our people who became unemployed because of the COVID-19 crisis.)