During a Palace press briefing on July 1, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confidently announced that the Congress would take into consideration the welfare of ABS-CBN Network’s 11,000 workers in determining its grant of franchise renewal.
Although he reiterated that the media giant should first secure its license to operate.
Roque said, “Tingnan natin kung ano ang maging desisyon ng Kongreso, pero hindi po natin sila pupuwedeng panghimasukan bagama’t sigurado po ako na iko-consider din ng mga congressmen at ng mga senador ang kapakanan ng mga mawawalan ng trabaho.”
After the Kapamilya network stopped its broadcast operations following the cease and desist order of NTC (National Telecommunications Commission), it is losing around P30 million to P35 million in daily revenues.
Because of this, it prompted ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak to consider retrenchment of workers by August if they still fail to secure a 25-year franchise.
Meanwhile, the Palace previously stated that the deliberation on the franchise renewal will be up to the Congress, clarifying that President Rodrigo Duterte is hands-off on the issue despite issuing threats previously.
“As far as he (Duterte) is concerned, that issue is in the hands of Congress and he has nothing to do with it. Do their work,” then Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier remarked.
House Speaker Alan Cayetano also denied the involvement of the Palace and clarified that the President does not control what happens in Congress and claimed he is neutral on this matter.
“The President has never told me to grant or not grant the [franchise], and kung titingnan mo ang attitude ng Presidente, sa confirmation, sa mga secretary, kung anong teritoryo ng Kongreso, sa Kongreso yan,” Cayetano said.
During the 10th House committee on legislative franchises hearing DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) slammed ABS-CBN counsel for ‘intellectual dishonesty.’ Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III accused the network lawyers of stating that the department has the approval of the seasonal work arrangement of its employees.
DOLE said, “labor inspectors found violations of laws and standards by ABS CBN. And on account of those findings, the company took steps to correct those infractions.”
“Correcting the violations committed by ABS-CBN after inspection did not make it a compliant company,” Bello added.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed this issue stating, “It is also an absolutely stupid charade since shutting down an enterprise will never solve labor issues but merely add to the ranks of the unemployed. The same goes for the Department of Labor and Employment which, while taking ABS-CBN to task over labor issues, has all too often closed its eyes or even abetted abuses of workers’ rights, not just in media but other industries as well,”
ABS-CBN also took allegations regarding its usage of subsidiary Big Dipper Digital Content and Design Inc. and the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) as tax shields.
But ABS-CBN Group chief financial officer Ricardo Tan clarified that Big Dipper is qualified for incentives given by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
“There were specific requirements there in terms of investment and export and over the years we’ve met those requirements,” Tan said.
He further explained, “Big Dipper is used solely for the services that are being offered by Big Dipper to its clients. It so happens that ABS-CBN is a client of Big Dipper but none of the Big Dipper assets is actually being used by ABS-CBN in any production of its content.”
Also, Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla again took issue with the TV Plus services which continued in the wake of the order filed against them by the NTC, a subject that had already been addressed in the previous hearings.
“In other words, they kept it going from May 5 until July 1,” he said.
Despite the shut-down and allegations, the Kapamilya network stood strong as it made way to continuously serve the public through its digital platforms and Kapamilya Channel.