Key ABS-CBN staffers nix working for any new owners

/ 09:35 AM July 23, 2020

An online forum with ABS-CBN employees and union supporters was hosted by the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance. INQUIRER/Jun Nucum

DALY CITY, California –The thought of working for another company that might take over the beleaguered Philippine network giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation does not sit well with top The Filipino Channel (TFC) news officials and ABS-CBN’s rank and file union head, who vowed not to accept jobs that a new management might offer.

This sentiment was aired in a video panel hosted by Filipino Americans Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) after the Philippine Congress joint committees denied the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

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Guests on the panel were ABS-CBN North America News Bureau Chief TJ Manotoc, TFC producer and staff editor Henni Espinosa, President of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union (ABSCBNRFEU) Generoso Jon Villanueva Jr. and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) coordinator Benjamin Miguel G. Alvero III. Both Villanueva and Alvero spoke from Manila.

Manotoc, Espinosa and Villanueva firmly stated that they would rather not be connected with any new management that could take over ABS-CBN.

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“If a new ownership comes in, it is a definite NO for me. I already saw and felt the heart and love of Kapamilya, the Lopez family and the executives running the company through the years and this style of management cannot be changed overnight or inherited by a new owner,” Manotoc asserted.

For her part, Espinosa promised to be with her Kapamilya network: “The reason why we are loyal to company is because the company is loyal to us. We believe in the values and ideals of the Lopez family.  If a new company takes over the management, I am not on board,” Espinosa stressed.

Villanueva vouched for the Lopezes’ fair treatment of the network’s employees.

“The Lopezes have been very good to us who work for them, and I like how they care for us. I do not know if I can find the same, care and service that ABS-CBN give from other employers. Besides, never has the company ever interfered with our personal lives and political beliefs. The company has been very fair on that,” Villanueva attested.

Villanueva also revealed that the employees did not organize the pro-ABS-CBN noise barrages and protest motorcades, but supporters outside the company did, like the labor unions, jeepney drivers and network fans.

“We, the employees, are in solidarity with them. Management dissuaded us from organizing and mobilizing motorcades, noise barrages and similar mass actions,” Villanueva maintained.

Manotoc thanked the noise barrages and social media protests for pushing back against “the spread of lies by those opposed to the granting of franchise.”

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Villanueva also strongly maintained that an oligarchy was not dismantled with the denial of ABS‘s franchise renewal: “You did not dismantle any oligarchy. What you destroyed are 11,000 jobs of employees with families, lives and dreams.”

“More than 90% of the employees would be affected by the retrenchment since almost all of the work departments and divisions depended on the frequency and transmitters that the company uses with the franchise,” Villanueva rued. “My own regional division that has served for 24 years has already been dissolved.”

Echoing Villanueva, Manotoc supported company President Carlo Katigbak’s statement that only ABS-CBN has invested much to reach certain parts of the Philippines that no other network TV or radio station reaches.

“When typhoons and other calamities start happening, a lot of these places now are off the grid, so who now can provide news and information to and from them? How can they now be warned of what may hit them?” asked Manotoc. “The regional new groups are the ones that first give the much-needed information about the places they cover before the Manila news team can take over.”

Manotoc also lamented that the provincial partners of ABS-CBN’s charitable foundation will be cut off. “How can the relief goods and other needed logistics now be sent in advance?”

Espinosa chimed in, saying, “ABS-CBN Foundation rallies all relief and other needed services even from overseas whenever there is a calamity.”

Espinosa thanked all of the network’s supporters for boosting the network employees’ morale and urged them to “stay strong, continue talking about it, reach out to our elected officials, make more noise internationally. If human rights organizations are talking about it, we need to get on board.”

“We appreciate that we have forums like these that everyone can watch and listen to so they can be enlightened on the issues at hand,” Manotoc stated. “Learn how to discern true facts from the lies, the truth from the conspiracy theories. We in the media will be there to guide you to have an informed choice.”

Alvero assured that the labor sector can help in strategizing and mobilization to build public support for ABS-CBN employees.

“We also have our own doubts if another management will honor the existing collective bargaining agreement, tenure of employees, and the years they toiled with the company. For us, this is too much of a risk for workers,” Alvero warned. “The decision to close ABS-CBN is (intended) to have a chilling effect on dissent and press freedom. If you can do this the largest network, how much more to other smaller networks or media entities?”

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TAGS: ABS-CBN franchise non-renewal, Duterte repression, Philippines freedom of the press
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