MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Veteran broadcast journalist and anchor Kathy San Gabriel served state-run television network PTV-4 for 11 years but management gave her a mere two-day notice her contract won’t be renewed.
San Gabriel, in a phone interview with Rappler, said that she was called to the office of General Manager (GM) Dino Apolonio on Wednesday, June 28. She was informed then that they would not be keeping her as a PTV anchor as her contract was set to expire on Friday, June 30.
Apolonio told her the decision was made based on the recommendation of the news department. He told her that the management is eyeing someone else to anchor the flagship newscast as part of their efforts to reformat.
The GM couldn't give direct answers when she asked why there was such short notice.
“Hindi naman ako magpupumilit kung ayaw nila sa akin. Sana man lang naging makatao sila, [nagbigay] ng sapat na panahon para makapaghanda emotionally, financially, iyon lang. I feel iyong 11 years na pinagsilbi ko sa PTV4, sa taumbayan, parang nawalan ng halaga,” San Gabriel told Rappler.
(I won’t force myself on them if they don’t want me anymore. But I hope they could have been more humane and had given me more time to prepare emotionally and financially. I feel that my 11 years of service with PTV4 and the public lost value.)
“I’m a single parent. I have a daughter, ayoko naman mabakante (I don’t want to lose a job),” she added.
In a text message to Rappler, Apolonio confirmed that he met with San Gabriel and informed her of the situation two days before the expiration of her contract.
"The news department has decided to take a different approach in the look and feel of the newscast. Unfortunately, at this time, she may not be included in those plans," he said.
However, he said he has kept a window open for San Gabriel. "I did tell her that I will give the new direction 3 months to see how it goes and may call her back if necessary."
San Gabriel was supposed to do her last anchoring duty on Friday – the opportunity she intended to properly say goodbye to her viewers and the staff she had worked with for more than a decade.
But her producer texted her, asking her not to report for work anymore after a flurry of reactions to a post by her former co-host Professor Xiao Chua, revealing her termination from the network. San Gabriel posted this on her Facebook account.
She said anchoring for the last time meant so much for her as a form of closure from the network and to be able to say goodbye to the people who supported her through the years. Her daughter, aged 12, also wanted to say her own goodbyes to the PTV staff she had grown up to be friends with.
Prior to joining PTV 4, she was also a news anchor and reporter for media giant ABS-CBN.
As early as April
San Gabriel said she had been warned that someone from the news department wanted her out. She confronted the department head, Edgar Reyes, regarding this as early as April but Reyes denied it.
“Why did Edgar Reyes deny it and now I’m finding out that the news department [recommended] it?” she asked.
She declined to identify who was rumored to be lobbying for her dismissal.
San Gabriel also refused to comment on detailed speculations that she was dismissed because of her Facebook posts critical of government.
But in general, she said: “I was never critical about the administration. I’ve been in PTV for more than a decade and I know the limits of my responsibilities.”
In a Facebook post, Chua, who used to host the history show It’s Xiao Time on the state channel, said that termination in the network has been happening since April.
Chua’s show, which ran for 5 years, was also cancelled in the same month.
Aside from San Gabriel, sources said 3 PTV reporters – Jed del Rosario and Lala Babilonia – and a production assistant were also sacked. Rappler sought their comments but Del Rosario declined. Babilonia, meanwhile, said that the incident was disheartening for her.
"I stayed because of my passion and then I gave all my efforts but I'll be dispensed just that. For me, I hope they gave a notice 15 days prior, like what was in the contract," she told Rappler in Filipino.
The termination of their services does not seem logical to San Gabriel, who said that the network is undermanned. “There are certain people who are stretched out that they go beyond their responsibility.”
Most of the employees in PTV are contractual workers who are working without security of tenure and benefits. San Gabriel said around 70% of the network’s staff work under this arrangement.
Contractualization is a major issue under the Duterte administration since he promised to put an end to "endo". Endo or end of contract is the continuous renewal of a worker’s contract to circumvent the law that requires the regularization of workers after 6 months. Employers do this to cut cost by avoiding the payment of benefits due their employees as provided by the law. – Rappler.com