MANILA - Some services of ABS-CBN Foundation's Bantay Bata 163 will be discontinued due to its mother company's significantly reduced operations following its franchise denial, its chief said Sunday.
The program can no longer give medical assistance and will no longer accept new scholars, program director Jing Castañeda said.
"Malaki ang kinapilay natin. Ang dami kasing nalilibre ng Bantay Bata dahil sa ABS-CBN. Yung pondo natin, konti lang. I would rather use it for the children, hindi administrative o operating expense," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We're severely crippled because many things were free for Bantay Bata because of ABS-CBN. We have meager funds. So, I would rather use it for the children, not for administrative or operating expense.)
"Talagang mabigat sa puso, nakakaiyak na hindian ang mga request na ito. Yung mga gusto pong tumulong, pwede sa 163. We’d be happy to accept donations."
(It's saddening to deny requests. Those who would like to help, you may call 163. We'd be happy to accept donations.)
Bantay Bata's hotline will remain open to receive reports of abuse and its scholarship program for some 300 students will continue, Castañeda said.
The hotline received an uptick of 200 percent in terms of volume of calls reporting abuse during the lockdown, and 500 percent in terms of asking for aid, she disclosed.
"Ang 163 tuloy-tuloy naman yun. Yun ay commitment natin sa kabataang Pilipino. Yung ating Children’s Village kung saan kinukopkop natin ang mga batang nangangailangan, inabandona, at biktima ng pang-aabuso ay tuloy-tuloy dahil sa tulong ng Quezon City government. Sila kasi ang nagpopondo doon," she said.
(163 continues to operate. It's our commitment to the Filipino youth. Our children's village, where abused and abandoned children are given help, remains open because it's funded by the Quezon City government.)
The program's regional assistance will also be affected since its offices are housed in ABS-CBN regional networks, which will operate until August 31 only due to the rejection of ABS-CBN's broadcast franchise application last July 10.
"Ang mga opisina nationwide ang ginagamit tuwing mayroon tayong relief ops, outreach. Yung mismong Batay Bata, doon nag-oopisina," Castañeda said of the ABS-CBN regional stations.
(Our offices nationwide are used for relief operations, outreach. Bantay Bata holds offices there.)
"'Pag walang external donor, ABS-CBN ang sumasalo n'yan. Ang ABS-CBN, napakarami pong itinutulong hindi lang in terms of cash, kung 'di mga tulong in kind."
(ABS-CBN funds Bantay Bata if there are no external donors. It helps a lot not only in terms of cash, but also in kind donations.)
Castañeda, meantime, said it should not be taken "against ABS-CBN" when it asks for donations from the public as it is the network's "strength" as a media company.
"If you have that airtime, people want to help kahit hindi ka humingi. Yung airtime din pong iyon ang nagdudugtong sa mga humihingi naman ng tulong kasi naparating natin through our reporters, our news reports kung ano ang pangangailangan ng bawat lugar," she said.
(If you have that airtime, people want to help even if you don't ask for it. That airtime also bridges those who need help from our reporters, news reports.)
"So, huwag masamain ng sinuman kung tayo po ay humingi ng donasyon mula sa publiko kasi kahit hindi po iyon hingin, kusa pong dumadating, at sila po ang naghahanap ng paraan para makatulong."
(So, we hope no one takes it against us for asking for donations from the public because even if we don't ask, they will still do it on their own, and they even find their own ways to help.)
Voting 70-11, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN's bid for a fresh license after its previous franchise lapsed on May 4.
The network was forced off the air on May 5 on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission which earlier committed to allow ABS-CBN to continue its operations beyond the expiration of its franchise.
ABS-CBN's shutdown came nearly 50 years after the Marcos government seized the network shortly after martial law was declared in 1972.
Before the franchise denial, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly threatened to pull the plug on the network over complaints of partisanship in the 2016 presidential elections.