A lawmaker on Saturday urged the government to provide cash aid and job-matching assistance to more than 11,000 ABS-CBN employees affected when the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied the network's franchise application.
In a statement, ACT-CIS Party-list Representative Jocelyn Tulfo has urged the Executive branch - as its "moral obligation" - to task the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to give aid to the displaced ABS-CBN workers, as well as facilitate their transfer to other existing networks or other competing firms in the same sector.
"Sa gitna ng krisis na dinaranas ng bansa sanhi ng COVID-19 pandemic, marami nang nagsarang kumpanya kaya’t lalong mahihirapang maghanap ng trabaho ang mga taga-ABS-CBN lalo pa yung mga may edad na. Kaya’t kailangan ng job-matching assistance," Tulfo said.
"Moral na obligasyon din ng pamahalaan na bigyang ayuda ang mga apektadong trabahador. Ipinapanukala kong isali ang mga displaced ABS-CBN workers sa kasalukuyang ipinaiiral na one-time cash assistance ng DOLE," Tulfo added.
The lawmaker said if the Department of Finance has been able to secure $7.8 billion worth of loans and bonds, distributing P5,000 assistance to the network's 11,000 employees or a total of P55 million "should not be a challenge" to the DOLE.
"The quest to push for the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is far from over. ABS-CBN supporters may continue to push for franchise renewal. What happened yesterday was not the end," she said, noting that members of Congress will have to contend with the "political reality" that ABS-CBN has a "strong following" among millions of Filipinos.
"The Kapamilya are not trolls. They are real people. There are millions of them and many of them are voters from whom we get our mandate to serve here in Congress," Tulfo said.
"The Kapamilya will hold us accountable for our words and actions here in Congress."
The House panel adopted the Technical Working Group’s (TWG) Committee Resolution recommending the denial of the network's franchise application through 70 yes votes, 11 no votes, and three who did not participate.
Based on the TWG report, ABS-CBN violated its old franchise, described by the panel as a privilege, because of the following reasons: its former Chairman Eugenio Lopez III was both a Filipino and American citizen, the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts supposedly favoring foreigners, inappropriate program content, meddling in politics, tax avoidance schemes; less than exemplary labor practices, among others.
The TWG also said ABS-CBN cannot invoke the freedom of the press in justifying its franchise application.
ABS-CBN has insisted that ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez III is a Filipino citizen as his parents are both Filipinos.
On questions on its Philippine Depository Receipts, the network clarified that a PDR is not a share of ABS-CBN and that PDR holders cannot vote on matters involving the network as they do not hold company shares.
ABS-CBN maintained that it paid all its taxes annually and complied with all the rules and regulations with regards to tax payments.
On Friday, the network said it was “deeply hurt” by the House panel decision.
“We are deeply hurt that the Committee on Legislative Franchises has denied the franchise application of ABS-CBN,” ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak said in a statement.
“We believe that we have been rendering service that is meaningful and valuable to the Filipino public,” Katigbak said.
Shortly after the voting, Malacañang said it accepts the decision of the House panel.
“Much as we want to work with the aforesaid media network, we have to abide by the resolution of the House committee,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque also said the denial of the application was the “sole prerogative of Congress that we in the Executive recognize.”