SENATOR Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is calling on the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG) to settle the back wages and overdue benefits of employees of state-owned People’s Television Network Inc. (PTN) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC-13).
“Dahil sa katagalan ng pagkaantala, may iba na nakamatayan na ang pagkubra ng kanilang back pay, unpaid overtime pay at retirement benefits. Pinagpaguran at nag-serbisyo sila sa gobyerno kaya dapat lamang na mabayaran sila at sana ay makuha na nila ito sa lalong madaling panahon,” Estrada said.
During Tuesday’s organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles told senators that while Congress had allocated a budget for the payment of the unsettled dues, the GCG supposedly disallowed the use of the funds and said that corporate funds of the two television stations should instead be tapped based on existing laws and government guidelines.
“Pero dahil nanggaling sa GAA (General Appropriations Act) iyong pera, hindi po siya corporate funds,” Angeles told Estrada upon the latter’s questioning.
Estrada, who is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources, was also told that the unsettled overtime and back pay of PTN and IBC-13 employees cover the period 2013 until 2015.
The government stopped paying the estimated P400 million IBC-13 overdue compensations, including retirement benefits, in 2009. In a bid to settle the issue, the television network paid some employees in installment basis of P10,000 monthly and 20 percent of their benefits. This, however, stopped in 2014 after the company ran out of funds.
On the other hand, while the issue affecting PTN is now being addressed by the employees’ union, Angeles said any proposed solution, including the reorganization plan of the government-owned TV station, requires the approval of the GCG.
Angeles assured senators that the bulk of the amount Congress appropriated for the two broadcast stations remains with the Office of the Press Secretary.
“Sa nakalap nating impormasyon, ang iba sa mga empleyado ay pumanaw na at hindi na napakinabangan ang mga benepisyo at sweldo na nakalaan sa kanila. May nakalaan naman na pondo para dito kaya wala akong nakikitang dahilan para maipit pa ito at hindi magawan ng paraan ng GCG upang mapasakamay na ng mga empleyado at ng kanilang mga pamilya,” Estrada said.