CEBU, Philippines – Radio Philippines Network (RPN) 9 employees who were affected by the TV network’s retrenchment program here are asking the management for due compensation after some reportedly received unjust separation pay offers.
Alan Tangcawan, a part-time radio reporter of RPN-9, said at least 5 of his colleagues in the network’s Cebu office were served termination notices.
He said one of them, seasoned radio announcer Egmidio “Emie” Bustillo, was informed he would get a separation pay of only P400,000, instead of P4 million — the amount he was supposed to get for over 24 years of service in the company.
“They (affected employees) were promised due compensation by the network, but the offer was not enough based on their computation,” noted Tangcawan.
Tangcawan said others who served fewer years would only be given P350,000 each.
RPN-9, along with IBC-13 and PTV-4, is a government-owned media asset. It was among the assets that the administration of former President Corazon Aquino sequestered after the Marcos regime.
The government, however, now only owns a minor 20% stake in RPN-9 following a Supreme Court ruling and several capital raising activities that saw the entry of private groups in the company.
The company is undertaking a retrenchment program to trim its financial losses.
Bustillo, an administration officer, and 4 technical personnel were among those served with termination notices by RPN-Cebu on Tuesday, October 2. Company-wide, some 200 employees are set to be laid off.
Tangcawan said Bustillo and the others were initially barred from entering their office.
However, he said RPN-Cebu received orders to allow those who were terminated to report for work again, while union negotiations in Manila are ongoing.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., whose office overseas RPN-9 operations by virtue of an executive order, earlier announced that the network would serve termination notices starting October 1, but these would take effect after a 30-day period or in November.
RPN-9 had P3 billion in obligations, of which P2 billion was owed to its employees.
To settle these obligations, the company borrowed from several groups, including Solar Entertainment.
Solar Entertainment was allowed to convert this debt into equity, giving it a substantial 34% stake in RPN-9.
Another group, Far Eastern Managers and Investors Inc. (FEMII), which is affiliated with the late Ambassador Roberto Benedicto and the San Miguel group, owns another major block of 32%. FEMII was awarded the stake after the Supreme Court ruled with finality in 2010 that it was the rightful owner of the stake.
In a previous statement, RPN management said it “struggled to raise funds needed to continue its operations and pay its employees regularly but to no avail.” “This unsustainable situation has resulted in years of unpaid debts and continuing financial losses,” it added.
The retrenchment of employees was a way to cut costs.
Acting RPN-Cebu Manager Fides Palicte, however, said in a radio interview that they would need men for their blocktime programs for the upcoming mid-term elections.
RPN-9 is no longer producing shows and its airtime had already been assigned to blocktimers. – Rappler.com, report from Ryan Christopher J. Sorote
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