MANILA--Several senators on Friday said they sympathize with employees who could be out of work following ABS-CBN's unsuccessful bid to have its franchise renewed.
Sen. Sonny Angara said he even believed that this development involving the Philippines' largest broadcast company, which coincided with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, will have broader consequences on the economy.
The failure of ABS-CBN to secure a fresh 25-year mandate will not only affect 11,000 workers, but also other creative industries that have been producing output for the broadcast giant, Senate Committee on Finance chair Angara said in a statement.
"Thousands will be out of work and will have no new jobs in this economy to apply for, with the biggest companies retrenching," he said.
"The effects will surely be felt by our country and the economy."
The House Legislative Franchises Committee denied ABS-CBN's franchise application, citing several violations even after several government agencies -- such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Justice -- cleared the Kapamilya channel from irregularities.
"Lubos tayong nababahala sa kapakanan ng higit na 11,000 na manggagawa at kanilang mga pamilya na maaaring magutom dahil sa kawalan ng trabaho, matapos ang desisyon ng Kongreso ngayong araw," Senate Committee on Labor chair Sen. Joel Villanueva said in a statement.
(We are very worried about the welfare of more than 11,000 workers and their families who may experience hunger due to possible job cuts after the Congress' decision today.)
"Malinaw po sana sa atin na manggagawa at ang kanilang mga pamilya ang talo sa desisyon na ito."
(It is clear to us that the workers and their families are the ones who lost in this decision.)
Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said the House's decision against ABS-CBN shows that the chamber also "killed" the livelihood of 11,000 workers.
"Itong hatol ng kamatayan para sa pinakamalaking estasyon sa bansa ay kamatayan din sa kabuhayan ng higit 11,000 nitong manggagawa at sa lahat ng mga tauhan nito at mga pamilya nila," Pangilinan said.
(This death sentence on the country's largest broadcast station spells death for the livelihood of 11,000 workers and their families.)
"Lalo na ngayong panahon ng COVID na 7 milyon na ang walang trabaho, dapat mismong gobyerno ang nagbibigay ng oportunidad para makapag-hanapbuhay."
(Especially during the time of COVID when 7 million Filipinos are jobless, the government should be the one giving opportunities for livelihood.)
The government earlier said that there are about 7.3 million Filipinos who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Philippines and other countries were forced to temporarily shut down businesses and travel to contain the spread of the virus.
Senate Committee on Public Services chair Sen. Grace Poe said the government should have given ABS-CBN a chance to "remedy" alleged labor, advertising and other deficiencies of the company raised during the franchise hearings.
"ABS-CBN is far from a perfect organization, and has admitted to its many failings. But in its balance sheet of accomplishments, the good it had done for our people are valuable," Poe said.
"The correct and constitutional response is to allow it to remedy them, the same chance extended to thousands of franchise applicants."
Villanueva urged the government to ensure that it will find jobs and provide assistance for the workers who will be displaced due to the House's decision to deny ABS-CBN's franchise.
"Sana nga ay may malinaw na plano ang ating gobyerno upang mabigyan ng agarang tulong ang mga apektadong empleyado at kanilang mga pamilya," he said.
(I hope the government has a clear plan on how to give immediate aid to the affected employees and their families.)