Dismissed ABS-CBN workers air plight

"Will Tatay Digong soon have a change of heart?"


Coronavirus news or the Visiting Forces Agreement controversy take the  backseat as far as the beleaguered ABS-CBN is concerned, as there is no more compelling issue now than for it to generate public support for its franchise renewal. 

The broadcasting monolith is calling its broad entertainment fan base to uphold its “press freedom.” 

It is ironic though that ABS-CBN also raises concern for the fate of over 10,000 employees facing probable displacement. We definitely share the workers’ predicament. 

But at least 120 former employees it fired in 2010 have yet to be compensated for back wages and benefits due them. They claim they were illegally dismissed and have been fighting the network in court for their unpaid overtime, holiday, and hazard pay on top of the illegal termination and security of tenure.

These men who worked as lightmen, audiomen, cameramen, camera control unit operators, VTR playback operator, assistant cameraman, drivers filed more than P400-million claims versus ABS-CBN which still awaits for the Supreme Court resolution. 

Bago nila sabihin na sinisikil ng Pangulo ang press freedom nila, paano naman yung karapatan naming mga manggagawa na walang awang sinibak nila,” laments Joseph Ong. 

Ong  was one of those  fired in August 2010  during the time of Maria Ressa, who was the vice president for news and public affairs of the said network.

Ong and his fellow dismissed ABS-CBN workers wish Congress would order the said  network to pay them first before granting its franchise, if it ever gets approved.

Truth be told, this may be a case of “press freedom daw” as much as it is a case of a corporate giant network insisting that it is entitled to special privilege of a TV franchise.

President Duterte had served ABS-CBN  notice or fair warning since last year that its franchise is bound to expire in March this year.

Unfortunately, yours truly is not a legal luminary that can delve on the intricate merits of arguments from either sides of pros and cons to the ABS-CBN franchise revocation. But as an ordinary Juan de la Cruz on the streets, I have certain questions. 

How is the TV network’s expired franchise any different from a resto-bar’s expired or revoked business permit resulting in its closure in the same way that water utility companies possibly getting their contracts cancelled due to onerous terms? 

Most  Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) say it is just unfortunate for the Lopezes owned network that it didn’t prove influential enough to get its preferred candidate or “manok” installed in Malacañang that year, as it had gotten used to before.

In the face of a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, ABS-CBN is trying to muster its “star power” to elicit public sympathy and translate fan support into People Power clamor for its franchise renewal.

It’s not surprising, too, that Duterte’s critics and the opposition are exploiting the issue and  harping on what they describe as Manong Digong’s vindictiveness over his censored political ad in the 2016 campaign.

When the President ordered the PCSO to shut down Lotto operations, nobody could stop him but he had a change of heart soon afterward, in favor of the tens of thousands small operators and poor people dependent on the gaming operations.

Our fellow Kapamilya Filipinos can only hope that Manong Digong would favor a Congress renewal of the TV network’s franchise, anyway.

My source within the halls of Congress say that the lawmakers are just awaiting the  go signal from the President to give the thumbs up sign for ABS-CBN franchise renewal days before it expires this coming March.

Also, my highly reliable source in Malacañang believes Tatay Digs will have a change of heart soon for the sake of the 11,000 lowly workers of the network.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Topics: Visiting Forces Agreement , ABS-CBN , Rodrigo Duterte , Jose Calida
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