In this Feb. 15, 2020 photo, thousands of ABS-CBN employees gather at the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City in support of the network's franchise renewal.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
ABS-CBN shutdown will worsen state of unemployment — labor group
Franco Luna ( - February 25, 2020 - 11:20am

MANILA, Philippines — An outright shutdown of broadcast giant ABS-CBN would ultimately worsen the state of unemployment in both the city and the country, a labor representative of the Quezon City Development Council said Tuesday.

This comes as the latest callout in an ongoing row against the broadcast giant after government lawyers filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN Corporation looking to revoke its legislative franchise.

According to Benjamin Cordero, labor representative of the Quezon City Development Council, the move should result in job security and regularization of the media network's thousands of workers. 

"Shutting down the network will merely worsen the current aggravating state of unemployment and under employment situation of the city and the country as a whole," said Cordero said in a statement. 

The group urged Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, whom they called "Duterte’s alter ego in the Senate," to "man up" and prioritize measures for the franchise. 

At Monday's hearing, it was Go who bared that the president was hurt by the actions of the media network, despite Palace assertion that the petition was not linked to any personal vendetta. 

"If the president isn’t really vindictive over his unaired ad during the 2016 election, as the senator is saying, we are one with the senator’s call to grant the franchise instead that will benefit the workers and alleviate the lives of the many," Cordero said. 

"The labor sector also believes that this move should result not just jobs for its thousands of workers but should also result for regularization, enough benefits for its workers and respect for union and collective bargaining agreement."

'Uncertainty torture for workers'

The same day the quo warranto petition was filed, labor group Defend Jobs Philippines tagged it as "not just an act to curtail press freedom but an attack against the livelihood of more than 11,000 workers of the Kapamilya network."

Defend Jobs Philippines in their statement cited figures from ABS-CBN's report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Philippine Stock Exchange, which showed that the company employed 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular workers and more than 3,325 talents by the end of 2018.

That equates to some 11,000 workers who are seen to lose their jobs should the company’s franchise renewal bid be rejected. According to Jon Villanueva, president of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees’ Union, the uncertainty over the future of their job security has been torture for the 11,000.

“Nangangamba kaming lahat ng empleyado sa araw araw na lumilipas ‘yung panahon. Torture po talaga, he told senators.

Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis put it succinctly in a text message to, saying, "Paglabag yan sa press freedom ng bansa (That is a violation of press freedom in the country)."

Congress is set to take its session break on March 12, while the media giant’s franchise will expire in the first week of May.

'Pro-worker franchise'

On Monday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros in her opening statement said that if the network's franchise were to eventually be extended, the welfare of its employees must be made its top priority. 

"We need a pro-worker franchise," the senator said during the Senate Committee on Public Services hearing on the alleged violations of the media giant on its franchise.

"Dapat genuine ang pagkalinga sa mga 11,000 manggagawa at hindi lang dahil may banta ng pagsasara," Hontiveros told the network executives.

"Kung tunay ang pagiging 'kapamilya,' dapat regular at may benepisyo ang mga empleyado ninyo," she urged. — with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 5, 2020 - 11:42am

President Duterte threatens not to renew ABS-CBN's franchise, his latest in what critics call a string of verbal attacks against dissenting media.

March 5, 2020 - 11:42am

Labor unions with Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino will march to the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City on Friday, March 6, in a show of solidarity with the network's employees and talents, BMP says in a release.

Among those marching will be union members from St. Luke’s Medical Center Bonifacio Global City and University of Santo Tomas Hospital, who BMP says "will extend their support and called on the Duterte administration to protect the workers facing job insecurity."

BMP "calls on workers to unite against the threat of unemployment as it may lead to desperate and futile actions such as the hostage-taking by former security guard Alchie Paray, which could only amplify the sorry plight of contractual workers but would not put an end to the anti-labor scourge of contractualization."

March 4, 2020 - 3:42pm

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announces that the House committee on franchises will start a hearing on the legislative franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN on March 10.

The hearing is set four days before the lower chamber of Congress goes on a recess on March 14. ABS-CBN's franchise will expire on May 4.

February 27, 2020 - 4:38pm

The House of Representatives missed its chance to lead the initiative to renew the ABS-CBN franchise, a think tank says.

"Today it can be said: The entire Duterte establishment except Congress has already endorsed the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise. Its major pillars are now openly supporting the renewal for the sake of the network’s employees —Senator Bong Go and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte," Terry Ridon of Infrawatch PH says. 

"President Rodrigo Duterte has also declared that the onus is on no one else but Congress. There is thus absolutely no more reason for Congress to delay deliberations. It is now time to decide whether to approve or reject the franchise. It has dropped the ball far too long, and it is now time to pick it up," Ridon a former House member and member of the panel on legislative franchises, says.

February 27, 2020 - 3:48pm

Media giant ABS-CBN says they are grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for accepting their apology.

"We will coordinate with the President's office as it relates to his guidance on donating the refund to a charitable institution," the Kapamilya network says.

"ABS-CBN remains to becoming a better organization and to provide a more meaningful service to Filipinos," it adds.


February 27, 2020 - 1:47pm

The Department of Justice tells the National Telecommunications Commission that "there is sufficient equitable basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of their respective franchise remain pending with Congress."

The NTC earlier sought guidance from the Justice department on the congressional franchise of ABS-CBN.

News5 reports that DOJ's legal guidance, signed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, adds that a "more stable legal environment could be created if Congress, by a concurrent resolution, would authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority to these broadcasting companies."

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