Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa remarked that thousands of ABS-CBN employees should just “find other jobs” if the Congress fails to renew the network’s franchise despite reports of high unemployment rate and company layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The neophyte senator in a virtual interview with reporters gave his comments as members of the House of Representatives are expected to wrap up its hearings on Thursday.
“Hanap ng ibang trabaho para mabuhay, magsumikap. May ibang paraan pa naman siguro para mabuhay tayo hangga’t may ibang jobs,” the administration-allied lawmaker said, as quoted by reports.
“Alangan namang sabihin ko sa kanila na maghimagsik kayo, magwala kayo. Maghanap na lang ng ibang trabaho para mabuhay pamilya ninyo,” Dela Rosa added.
He continued that workers of different companies were also affected by job closures amid the pandemic, not just ABS-CBN.
However, the senator admitted that he has not yet studied the potential economic impacts of the media giant’s closure in relation to government tax revenues.
ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries employ some 11,000 workers, based on ABS-CBN News.
While its chief executive officer previously said that the company would not layoff workers “for three months,” its news website said it “has been losing P30-35 million in advertising revenues daily since regulators forced it off air.”
The bigger picture
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa’s remarks were not so well-received by some members of the local online community who pointed out that potentially losing a job is challenging amid an ongoing public health crisis.
“Alam mo bang may retrenchment at layoffs na nagaganap??? Clearly, wala ‘tong pakialam sa manggagawang Pilipino. Gusto mo pang dagdagan ‘yung mga nagugutom ha? Papakainin niyo ba? Pagaaralin ang mga anak? Ha, ano?” a Twitter user said in response to the lawmaker’s comments.
“Parang ang dali nman maghanap ng trabaho. Ang dami nga nawalan dahil sa pandemic,” remarked another online user with a pleading eyes emoji.
A Filipino questioned if Dela Rosa, who previously drew flak for his “sarap ng buhay” remark amid a hybrid plenary session, had done something to actually boost the available jobs in the workforce.
“The audacity of you to say na hanap lang na trabaho. As if naman may ginawa kang paraan para maraming trabaho sa bansa natin. Aral din tayo sir ‘pag may time po,” she said.
A Twitter user shared a screengrab of a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority on the unemployment rate in response to Dela Rosa’s remarks.
— Michael Rhed A. Cañas, CPA (@JamesRhed) July 9, 2020
PSAs’ report, released on June 5, 2020, stated that the unemployment rate in the country had hit a record high of 17.7% last April due to the restrictions in mobility attributed to COVID 19 and the delayed entry of young workers in the labor force.
Reports note that the percentage was equivalent to “some 7.3 million” Filipinos.
Malacañang attributed it to the slowdown of the economy due to the pandemic that saw the Luzon region in strict lockdown for around two months.
“This is an obvious effect of the economic shutdown when the entire Luzon area was in an enhanced community quarantine where most businesses were closed and many people were out of work and stayed at home,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said before.
Last month, reports note that the Department of Labor and Employment has started getting reports about private companies reducing their workforce as non-essential onsite work operations continue to get affected by the community quarantine, among others.
State-run pension firm Social Security System said that up to 60,000 jobless private workers may avail of its unemployment benefit program.