ABS-CBN workers protest the closure of the network. The National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN to go off the air last May 4 upon the expiration of its congressional franchise. (Photo courtesy by ABS-CBN)

MANILA – The National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) orders against ABS-CBN Corp. would not automatically leave the workers of the local media giant unemployed, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said ABS-CBN continues to run its other media platforms, even after it was ordered to stop its broadcast operations following the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise on May 4.

“Hindi po automatic na palibhasa wala silang prangkisa ay wala na rin silang trabaho. Ang ABS-CBN naman po ay nagpapatuloy pa rin ang broadcast, lalung-lalo na sa digital platform (Its workers would not automatically lose their jobs after its franchise expired. ABS-CBN’s broadcast operations, especially in the digital platform, continue),” he said in a virtual press conference.

Roque also clarified that ABS-CBN only has 4,000 workers, citing data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Roque’s statement contradicted ABS-CBN’s repeated claim that 11,000 of its workers might lose their jobs, if the network shuts down.

“Well, sang-ayon po sa DOLE, hindi naman po 11,000 but it’s 4,000 employees. Iyan po ay sang-ayon din sa submission ng ABS-CBN sa DOLE. (Well, DOLE said it’s 4,000 employees and not 11,000. It’s also based on ABS-CBN’s submission to DOLE),” he said.

The NTC on May 5 directed ABS-CBN to halt the operations of its radio and television broadcast stations after its 25-year congressional franchise expired on May 4.

On June 30, the NTC issued a cease and desist order, ordering ABS-CBN to cease operating its digital television transmission using Amcara Broadcasting Corp.’s Channel 43.

The NTC also issued another cease and desist order on June 30 to stop the direct-to-home satellite transmission of ABS-CBN’s cable firm, Sky Cable Corp.

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte could not make an order that violates the 1987 Constitution which states that only media firms with valid franchise can operate in the country.

“Malungkot po talaga iyan pero malinaw po ang Saligang Batas kasi. Hindi naman ang Presidente ang pupwedeng mag-rewrite ng Saligang Batas (That’s really saddening but the Constitution is clear. The President cannot rewrite the Constitution),” he said.

Several bills granting ABS-CBN a new franchise remain pending before the House of Representatives.

Roque said he is confident that lawmakers would consider the welfare of ABS-CBN workers when they deliberate on the franchise bills.

“Tignan po natin kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng Kongreso pero hindi po natin sila pupwdeng panghimasukan (Let’s see what Congress’ decision would be. But we cannot interfere),” he said.

When the House committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability resumed their joint hearing on Tuesday, congressmen focused on the supposed worker rights violations committed by ABS-CBN.

In a statement on Wednesday, DOLE found that ABS-CBN committed “violations of laws and standards.”

DOLE also noted that there are 67 pending labor cases against ABS-CBN at the National Labor Relations Commission and various courts.

ABS-CBN, according to its official website, is primarily involved in content creation and production for television, online, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms, cable, satellite, cinema, live events, and radio for domestic and international markets.

It also operates various platforms, including domestic television, radio networks, worldwide OTT, and online platforms.

It also has interests in Philippine cable, satellite, and broadband systems; music and music publishing; consumer products and licensing; multimedia services; magazine and book publishing; product and post-production services; telecommunication services; money remittance; cargo forwarding; TV shopping services; food and restaurant services; theme park development and management; property management; and cinema management. (PNA)