ABS-CBN retrenches workers after failing to get Congressional license

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ABS-CBN, once the Philippines’ largest broadcasting company, announced last night that it will be forced to retrench some of its workers after it failed to get a new broadcasting license from Congress.

The company said that it will let go of some of its employees starting Aug. 31. These workers will join the ranks of at least two million Filipinos who have been left unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read: ABS-CBN owner told to recite PH oath of allegiance to prove nationalism

“We are doing all we can to mitigate the pain that will be felt by those affected, including paying out separation and retirement benefits and providing job placement programs. The loss of their jobs comes at a time when the uncertain and perilous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic further makes our decision truly difficult, but inevitable,” the company said in a statement.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcasting franchise, citing the company’s alleged violations, ranging from illegal foreign ownership to tax evasion. The company has rejected the allegations during the Congressional hearings, backed up by testimonies from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Filipinos have pointed out, however, that the lower chamber’s rejection did not come as a surprise, given that both House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and President Rodrigo Duterte have publicly said that they are against the franchise renewal. Duterte had alleged that the media company failed to air his campaign ads during the run-up to the 2016 elections. He also claimed that the company had broadcast reports which portrayed his government in a negative light.

Earlier this week, Duterte said that it wasn’t him who was responsible for shutting down ABS-CBN, but bragged in the same speech that he “dismantled the oligarchy” which he said “controlled the economy” of the Philippines.

Read: Actor Coco Martin lashes out at NTC, Calida’s ‘jackassery’ over ABS-CBN shutdown

Meanwhile, several ABS-CBN employees have expressed their sadness over the retrenchment on social media, such as newscaster Ces Drilon, who tweeted, “This was one of the toughest days I had to face. Telling fellow kapamilyas that they would lose their jobs by end of August. I lost mine too.”

Kapamilya, which means “family member,” is a nickname given to ABS-CBN supporters and employees.

Chiara Zambrano, one of the company’s most recognized reporters, wrote, “The massacre of Mother Ignacia. This is on you, almost salivating with pride. You, his mindless enablers. You who are too spineless to stand your ground and speak your mind. We will never forget. And this is NOT how this story ends.”

“Announcements are being made. Friends are bidding farewell. Words cannot console,” tweeted newscaster Bernadette Sembrano.


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