A year after a House committee rejected ABS-CBN’s application for a fresh franchise and under a year before the elections, workers are calling on the public to vote out the 70 lawmakers who voted to kill the network’s application.
“Next year, eleksyon, tingin ko ay may paniningil ang manggagawa sa gobyernong ito. (Next year it’s the elections, I think the workers will make this government pay),” Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino president Leody de Guzman said Friday during an online forum hosted by the ABS-CBN chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
Christian Lloyd Magsoy, Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson, echoed this, urging the public not to forget the lawmakers who voted to reject ABS-CBN’s franchise application.
“Maari tayong maningil sa kanilang ginawa dito sa mga kababayan natin, mga kapwa nating manggagawa. Huwag natin kalimutan ang hindi nila pagdinig sa hinaing sa mga manggagawa apektado nitong ABS-CBN shutdown,” Magsoy said.
(We can make them pay for what they did to our countrymen, our fellow workers. Let’s not forget how they did not listen to the appeals of the workers affected by the ABS-CBN shutdown.)
Generoso Villanueva Jr., president of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Union, meanwhile, called for unity among workers so they can pick pro-worker leaders.
“Kung mayroon lang pagkakaisa ang lahat ng mga manggagawa dito sa ating bansa, pwede nating idikta o piliin ang mga mamumuno sa ating bansa na pabor sa interes ng mga manggagawa,” Villanueva said.
(If only all workers here in the country are united, we can dictate or choose the leaders of our country who would favor the interests of workers.)null
Blow to workers
The shutdown of ABS-CBN, then the largest TV network in the country, dealt a huge blow to nearly half of its 11,071-strong workforce who had to be let go in the middle of a pandemic following the rejection of its franchise application.
A year later, Villanueva said some of those who had been laid off still had no jobs, while others have shifted to becoming delivery riders, bakers or eatery owners.
“‘Yong iba po ang laki po talaga na nagbago sa buhay nila,” he said. “Ibang-iba po talaga sa ginagawang trabaho nila dati sa ABS-CBN.”
(The lives of others drastically changed … The jobs they got were extremely different from what they did at ABS-CBN.)
It’s not only ABS-CBN workers who had been affected, but also workers of businesses dependent on the continued operation of the TV network, according to de Guzman and Magsoy.
“Nag-shutdown ang ABS-CBN, so wala na ring mga ibang mga negosyo. ‘Yong iba sa kanila siguro nagsara. Pero kadalasan, bumaba ang kita ng negosyo na may direktang kinalaman sa ABS-CBN,” Magsoy said.
(ABS-CBN shut down, so other businesses also followed. Most of the time, the income of businesses directly related to ABS-CBN went down.)
‘Worse than a storm’
Long before the National Telecommunications Commission forced ABS-CBN off air and before the congressional panel rejected its application for a new franchise — moves that were widely viewed as attacks on press freedom — the network’s journalists already had an inkling of what was to come.
For ABS-CBN justice reporter Mike Navallo, Solicitor General Jose Calida’s filing of a quo warranto petition to void the network’s franchise sounded the death knell for the network.
“Talagang tutuluyan tayo. Talagang ipapasara na tayo. For me, kahit hindi nagtagumpay ‘yong quo warranto petition na ‘yon, for me that signalled the start of the end,” Navallo said.
(They’re really coming after us. They will really shut us down. For me, even if that quo warranto petition did not prosper, for me that signalled the start of the end.)
This was also the same for ABS-CBN news chief Ging Reyes, who already had a strong hunch that their franchise would not get renewed.
But even as they expected the worst that was to come, it still hit hard when it became a reality.
“Para talagang masahol ka pa sa binagyo o dinelubyo (It’s worse than being in a storm or disaster,)” Reyes said.
But like any other storm, there are silver linings to all this.
“I realized how it’s also been a time of tremendous and heroic effort at surviving and continuously fighting for our values and for our role as a public trust,” Reyes said.
Reporting by Patricia Elise Monsod