MANILA, Philippines – State broadcast corporation IBC-13 on Monday, October 10, appealed to senators to fund the struggling station as the majority of its retired employees have not received their retirement pay since 2009.
IBC-13, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), has been in the red over the past few years, incurring millions of losses amid plans to privatize it.
During the Senate subcommittee on finance hearing on the budget of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) and its attached agencies, no budgetary item was given to IBC-13, which would need about P979.09 million to make it commercially viable and allow it to pay the long-overdue retirement benefits of its employees, according to the OPS.
Hexilon Alvarez, IBC-13 president and CEO, said the GOCC has paid only 38% of its 130 retirees since 2009, providing them with only P10,000 monthly to cover unpaid benefits. Some three or four retired employees have also died in the past two years without receiving their compensation, he said.
“Ikinalulungkot ko po na simula 2009, hindi po nakayanan ng IBC-13 na sagutin ang mga ibang retirement benefits,” Alvarez told senators. (Sadly, since 2009, IBC-13 has been unable to cover other retirement benefits.)
“Kaya po kami humihingi ng tulong sa Senado,” he added. (That’s why we’re asking for the Senate’s help.)
Alvarez said the station needs at least P454 million to cover former IBC-13 employees who have yet to receive their benefits.
Earlier in September, then-press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles told the House appropriations committee that unless the government sequestered broadcast firm was funded, it would be forced to shut down by January 2023.
Nothing from the Office of the Press Secretary’s proposed P1.2-billion budget for 2023 will go to IBC-13, she said. Employees will lose their jobs once the broadcaster ceases operations.
Minority Leader Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III pointed out that IBC-13’s total P619-million funding for personnel services may be sourced from unprogrammed funds to save the languishing GOCC.
“This is a possible solution in between…instead of zero…we can also put them in the unprogrammed appropriations because sometimes, there is excess in revenues or these are loaned as general budgetary support so we can spend it and solve the problems of our retirees,” Pimentel said.
Subcommittee chair Senator JV Ejercito said senators would consult with the main finance committee on how to address the matter. – Rappler.com