MANILA, Philippines – Calling the contract-based status of long-time GMA-7 talents an “injustice” that must not be tolerated, 15 faculty members and 9 staff members of the country’s premier state university urged networks to put an end to the continued contractualization of media practitioners.
“Indeed, our graduates in particular and media workers in general deserve to be treated better given their contribution to the shaping of public opinion,” read a joint statement released Wednesday, December 17.
The statement was signed by the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Commmunication (UP CMC) dean, associate dean, and other top-brass officials of the college, former UP CMC Dean Luis Teodoro confirmed to Rappler.
At least 21 of the more than 100 protesting talents of network giant GMA-7 are graduates of UP CMC, mostly degree holders of broadcast communication and journalism, the statement read.
“Many UP CMC graduates occupy senior management positions in media organizations, and we expect them to find a win-win solution to the issue of contractualization,” the statement read further.
By 2015, 52 GMA-7 talents will be left jobless as a result of their refusal to sign a contract that tied their employment to the existence of shows and left them without security of tenure despite their years of exclusive work with the network.
“It is clear that lack of job security seriously affects the media workers’ efforts to promote and uphold freedom of the press,” the statement read.
GMA-7 offered some of the more senior protesters the option to continue their original talent agreements which go beyond 2014 in what was seen as a divide-and-conquer tactic of the network. This brought down the number of those who would become unemployed. (READ: 52 talents with cases vs GMA-7 jobless by 2015)
The select UP officials and faculty members who signed the statement said they “expect the alumni to fight for their rights whenever they feel exploited and oppressed.”
Among the listed signatories of the statement are:
- Dr Roland B Tolentino, UP CMC dean
- Prof Danilo A Arao, UP CMC associate dean
- Prof Evelyn O Katigbak, UP CMC College secretary
- Prof Roehl L Jamon, UP Film Institute director
- Prof Lucia P Tangi, Department of Journalism chair
- Prof Luis V Teodoro, UP CMC former dean
- Dr Elizabeth Enriquez, Broadcast Communication Department faculty member
- Prof Rosa Maria T Feliciano, Broadcast Communication Department faculty member
- Ms Ivy A. Claudio, Broadcast Communication Department faculty member
- Prof Sari Raissa Ll. Dalena, UP Film Institute faculty member
- Prof Eduardo Lejano Jr, UP Film Institute faculty member
- Prof Shirley Evidente, UP Film Institute faculty member
- Prof Mark David McKeown, UP Film Institute faculty member
- Dr Clarissa David, UP Graduate Studies faculty member
- Carlo Pangilinan, UP CMC lecturer
- Jamela Tolentino, UP CMC administrative staff
- Janette Pamaylaon, UP CMC administrative staff
- Gina Villegas, UP CMC administrative staff
- Israel Bufete, UP CMC administrative staff
- Marianita P. Cinco, UP CMC administrative staff
- Rosalita S. Burlat, UP CMC administrative staff
- Rhonald D. Juanillo, UP CMC administrative staff
- Lyka Mari C. Napiñas, UP CMC administrative staff
- Irene B. Sia, UP CMC administrative staff
“As many of its alumni from various media organizations have made known to some of the College officials and faculty members their sorry plight, we cannot afford to stay silent lest we tolerate such injustice,” their statement read.
Talents Association of GMA (TAG) President Christian Cabaluna said he was “ecstatic” about the support they got from the UP professors and staff.
“Pakiramdam namin ay parang may ‘Tatay’ kami na nagtatanggol sa amin. Dahil siya mismo batid ang pinagdadaanan naming hirap dulot ng laban,” he said.
(We feel like we have a father defending us. Because he himself understands the difficulty we are going through caused by our fight.)
A teary-eyed I Juander executive producer and TAG member Stephen Patricio said he was in awe of the UP professors’ refusal to stay silent on the issue. He also urged other universities to follow suit.
The statement, he said, shows how UP CMC gives importance to the media industry and its workers.
Reform talent system
All members of TAG, the protesting talents, filed a labor suit against GMA-7 last May. (READ: GMA-7 talents risk losing jobs over regularization plight)
But the network denied any employer-employee relationship with its talents, regarding them instead as independent contractors.
Network talents are the technical and creative runners behind GMA-7’s highly-rated public affairs shows, with only the program manager and program administrator as regular employees.
These are the people who propose and develop story ideas, write scripts and spiels, produce audiovisual reports, shoot interviews, source contacts and contributors, fact-check stories, and find case studies for stories, among others, for GMA-7’s top-rated, award-winning public affairs shows.
They are likewise a ready set of people the network can tap for coverage other than those stipulated in their talent agreements, including breaking news, election coverage, and special reports. (READ: GMA-7’s talents: We’re thinking of future journalists)
With its case before the National Labor Relations Commission, TAG seeks to reform the talent system, a practice not exclusive to GMA-7, but most, if not all, television networks in the country.
GMA-7 had refused to comment further on the case, referring instead to its earlier statement saying talents are vital to the network. (READ: GMA-7: Talents vital to network success)
In response, TAG said in a statement, the network has yet to put its money where its mouth is.
Lawyer Regino Moreno, the network’s legal counsel, earlier told Rappler issues surrounding the case “should not be ventilated before the bar of public opinion.”
“They are trying to generate public opinion and gain public sympathy, but then the public cannot resolve the issue,” he added.
But Reel Time executive producer and TAG member Ely del Rosario said there is a need to ignite conversation about how media practitioners can be given protection commensurate to their jobs. – Rappler.com