Philippines’ largest media firm lays off thousands following shutdown

ABS-CBN building. Photo by Flickr

The Philippines’ largest media network was forced to lay off thousands of employees after it was shut down by the government by not being granted of a fresh franchise.

In a statement released on Wednesday, ABS-CBN Corporation said that with the non-renewal of a 25-year franchise, it was forced “to cease the operations of some of its businesses and implement a retrenchment program covering ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries effective end of the business day on 31 August 2020.”

This came amid the global pandemic that was plaguing global economies, including the Philippines.

“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,” ABS-CBN said.

“The loss of their jobs comes at a time when the uncertain and perilous impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-2019) pandemic further makes our decision truly difficult, but inevitable,” it added.

The company did not divulge how many of its 11,000 employees will be laid off.

“For those who are affected, we pray for you and your families, that you may have the strength and guidance to deal with the challenges ahead,” it said.

It can be learned that the majority of Philippine lawmakers on July 7 voted against renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise amid issues of its owner’s citizenship after 13 series of committee hearings.

Under Article XVI, Section 11 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to only Filipino citizens or corporations and associations wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

President Rodrigo Duterte has lashed out on ABS-CBN since 2017, accusing the broadcasting network of unfair reporting and for its failure to run his advertisements during his presidential bid.

ABS-CBN repeatedly apologized to the president and explained that the limits under the election law barred the airing of some of his ads.

The Office of the President has said it had no hands on the House of Representatives’ decision to vote against the renewal, saying that the palace was neutral on the issue as it respects the separation of powers between the two co-equal branches of the government.