Laid off media employees in Iloilo plan next move

Posted on April 28, 2015

ILOILO CITY -- Employees affected by the streamlining of several regional offices of broadcast company GMA Network, Inc. are meeting with a lawyer this week to look into their legal options after they were terminated.

Twenty-four regular employees, including reporters and cameramen, and 13 talents of GMA Iloilo were offered separation pay after they were informed on April 25 that it was their last day of work.

The termination of several local afternoon news programs was announced to the affected employees by GMA Regional Television Vice-President Rikki Escudero, who was joined by a lawyer, along with an offer of the checks for their separation pay.

“It was so sudden and we were not properly informed. Last Saturday, after we were informed, everyone agreed to meet with a lawyer to plan on our move,” said one reporter who requested anonymity.

Another reporter, who has worked for the network for almost eight years, said they are also waiting for advice from their union president at the central office.

“There have been rumors about it, but it was only last Friday that we were told that it was the last airing of our morning show. And on Saturday, our boss came from Manila and informed us about the action. Right now everybody is still trying to digest things,” the reporter said.

GMA Network has stopped the news programs in its regional offices in Ilocos, Naga City, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro City while the morning shows in the cities of Cebu and Davao have also been terminated.

In a statement published on their Web site, GMA’s management said: “The strategic streamlining being undertaken by the Network is geared towards increasing ratings and revenues of all of its regional stations from more efficient operations.”

“We are not closing down any regional station. Pending completion of the study and recommendation of the Regional TV Review Committee, all the existing regional stations other than Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and Dagupan will be continued as satellite selling stations,” the statement continued.

GMA also denied earlier reports that the streamlining is connected to the impending talks with potential investor Ramon S. Ang.

“As mentioned in our earlier statement, all affected personnel will be offered severance packages,” the statement said.

However, a reporter said the offered severance pay did not have a breakdown.

“We were told that it is equal to our two years of service. We do not know if that includes our sick leave and other benefits as there was no breakdown. Although for us it is not enough to help the employees after we lost our job,” the reporter said. -- Louine Hope Conserva