The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday expressed its “full support” for PTV4 employees who have recently been “unjustly” dismissed.
On Tuesday, July 4, the NUJP Secretariat met with former PTV4 talents: news anchor Kathy San Gabriel, reporter Lala Babilonia, and production assistant Migs Cruzada, who were all terminated days before their contracts were to end on June 30.
On June 28, the PTV4 management informed San Gabriel that her contract would no longer be renewed upon the recommendation of the news department headed by Edgar Reyes. The only reason she was given was that they wanted a “new look” for the newscast.
But although San Gabriel was still supposed to deliver the newscast on June 29, she was asked through a text message not to report for work anymore, unceremoniously ending her 11-year stint in the state-run television station, all through which, “kung ano and sinusweldo ko nu’ng 2006, ‘yun pa rin ang suweldo ko pag-alis ko (my wage remained unchanged since 2006).”
On the other hand, Babilonia and Cruzada were fired without prior notice the night of June 29, with management only citing “dissatisfaction” with their performance. When Babilonia asked Reyes why they were not informed at least 15 days prior to being dismissed, she said his curt reply was: “Kaya nga endo ‘diba (That’s why it’s endo [end of contract])?”
She also said Reyes told her she was supposed to be sacked on April 30 with the first batch of dismissed employees but was just “given a chance.”
Babilonia and Cruzada said they could not think of any compelling reason for their termination. They never received a single memo about their supposed incompetence or inefficiency and, like other employees, they often worked for up to 16 hours a day, and often spent their own money for official telephone calls and tolls, because of the station’s limited resources and manpower.
Babilonia began working for PTV4 in March 2016, Cruzada in February this year.
San Gabriel, Babilonia and Cruzada all signed their June 1 to June 30 contracts on June 18.
This was not the first time PTV4 management has dismissed employees without prior notice: in April, the company axed at least two other talents, including Xiao Chua, host of the segment It’s Xiao Time.
“NUJP finds the dismissals of our colleagues in PTV4 arbitrary and indiscriminate in the hasty and obscure process these were carried out. The least PTV4 could have done was to serve a 15-day notice that the employees’ contracts would no longer be renewed to allow them to find new jobs,” NUJP said in a statement attributed to Secretary General Dabet Panelo.
“Worse is that ‘endo’ or the practice of contractualization, which President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to end when he campaigned for office, is brazenly practiced within the government network and even flaunted to a dismissed worker’s face.
“We urge Malacañang to investigate and call to account the PTV4 officials responsible for trampling on the rights of our colleagues to humane employment conditions.
“We call on our fellow journalists and media workers to unite and heighten the struggle for genuine press freedom as well as our right to decent employment and working conditions.”