Heads of ABS-CBN workers' unions seek Duterte's help for broadcast franchise

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2020 01:29 AM

ABS-CBN employees and supporters hold a noise barrage around the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City on July 15, 2020, 5 days after the House Committee on Legislative Franchise denied the network's franchise application. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The leaders of 2 employees' unions in ABS-CBN on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene in the renewal of the media network's broadcast franchise for the sake of its workers, many of whom have already been notified about their retrenchment.

“Nakikiusap po ako sa Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte… Baka, kahit sa huling pagkakataon po, sana maisalba niyo 'yung trabaho namin. Hindi pa naman siguro huli,” Jon Villanueva, president of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union, said in an interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

He urged the President to stick to his words from his campaign slogan, "Tapang at Malasakit."

"Baka puwede niyo pong ipag-utos na hayaang mabigyan kami ng prangkisa para hindi naman po mawalan ng hanapbuhay 'yung libo-libong manggagawa. Naniniwala po ako na 'yung sa slogan ng ating Pangulo na 'Tapang at Malasakit.' Sana iparamdam niya," Villanueva said.

Due to the non-renewal of the network's broadcast franchise, Villanueva said most departments were dissolved, with only 10 percent left, like those working in the regional stations.

Raul de Asis, president of the ABS-CBN Supervisory Employees Union, said he was dismayed with the President.

"Sa totoo lang po, aaminin ko sa lahat na talagang ibinoto ko ang Pangulong Duterte... 'Yung mga kasamahan natin sa probinsiya, sa RNG (regional network group), ibinoto din siya. Pero sa nangyari ngayon, talagang iniisip nila na ibinoto natin ‘tong presidenteng ito, na gaganda ang buhay natin lahat, giginhawa ang buhay natin lahat. Pero hindi alintana na ganito na 'yung mangyayari sa aming lahat na sumuporta sa kaniya," he said.

"Ito ba ang kapalit ng aming pagboto sa kaniya? Kikitilin ang aming hanapbuhay? Gugutumin ang aming pamilya? Hindi na kami makatulong sa aming mga kamag-anak at kapatid at magulang? Sobrang masakit po," he added.

Duterte had repeatedly threatened to shut down the country's largest media conglomerate over allegations of political partisanship.

In a speech in Jolo on Monday, the President said he was "extremely" proud of himself and could die happy for blocking ABS-CBN's franchise, adding he had dismantled the oligarchy in the Philippines.

De Asis is worried because older workers would have difficulty finding new jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A House of Representatives panel last Friday denied ABS-CBN's bid to return on air "because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise." 

The country's telecoms regulatory body earlier issued a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN on May 5, a day after the network's broadcast franchise expired. The network had repeatedly applied for the renewal of its franchise since 2014. 

In the absence of a congressional franchise, the network, which employs 11,000 workers throughout its various subsidiaries, said it would cease the operations of some of its businesses and lay off workers effective Aug. 31, 2020.

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv