Palace to ABS-CBN: Why didn't you do more for pandemic relief?

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 12:14 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2020 03:43 PM

ABS-CBN employees greet a motorcade of participants at a noise barrage in front of the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City on July 13, 2020. The clamor for the return of the network after congress rejected its franchise bid spilled from online protests onto the streets as supporters expressed their outrage. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE)— Malacañang on Wednesday asked ABS-CBN Corp. why the company "could not have done more" to help the public during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an interview on ANC, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque pointed out that while the Lopez-owned company shelled out P200 million for relief operations, the rest of its donation was obtained from calls for help through its programs. 

On the other hand, he said, Ayala-led Manila Water Co and the Manuel Pangilinan-led Maynilad Water Services Inc — whose government contracts were questioned by Duterte — "delivered at a time of crisis" and gave donations "on their own." 

"I do not know why ABS-CBN could not have done more like what the Ayalas and the MVPs did," Roque told ANC. 

In May, Roque had thanked ABS-CBN for helping Filipinos weather the coronavirus pandemic, even after regulators forced it off the air. 

"I have to do as the President says: Thank you to ABS-CBN for all the help that you extended, not only in disseminating information, but the relief assistance that you have extended to our people," said Roque. 


ABS-CBN INITIATIVES 

ABS-CBN's Pantawid ng Pag-ibig project, which provided relief in the form of food and other necessities in partnership with local government units, had raised some P427.1 million, a breakdown of which is available here: corporate.abs-cbn.com/lingkodkapamilya/pantawidngpagibig

The bigger Lopez Group of Companies, of which ABS-CBN is a member, also donated the following: 

The Lopez Group also joined 5 other conglomerates that helped the health department boost the national confirmatory testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by 4 modular laboratories. It is also part of Project ARK, a private sector initiative to make mass testing for COVID-19 available nationwide. 

ABS-CBN's “Ligtas Pilipinas sa COVID-19” information campaign on its TV, radio, and online platforms amplified government's messaging what the virus is and how the public could keep themselves safe. 

It produced a total of 39 TV plugs and aired these for a total value of P246.7 million in various TV channels. 

On top of regular payroll, ABS-CBN gave an additional P281 million in salaries and financial assistance to production workers, including third party agency personnel, whose income were affected during the quarantine for 3 months. 

It provided safety gear, free meals, accommodation, shuttle service, and 30 percent pay premium to all employees, including our third party agency personnel, who were required to work onsite from March 15 to May 31. It also invested in increasing clinic capability for the safety and well-being of its workers. 

As of April 27, its charity arm ABS-CBN Foundation delivered to 73 hospitals the following: 146,000 surgical masks, 55,374 N95 masks, 19,600 hygiene kits, 14,277 safety goggles, 30,500 gloves, 2,500 face shields, 2,400 alcohol, 15,390 electrolyte drinks, and 55,322 chocolate bars and biscuits. 

Sixty five of these hospitals are in Metro Manila while 8 are provincial hospitals. 
 
WHAT PROMPTED ROQUE'S COMMENTS? 

Roque commented again on ABS-CBN's relief efforts when he was asked about Duterte's fresh tirades against the network, just days after the denial of its franchise by a House committee dominated by his allies. 

Duterte told troops in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday morning that he could now die happy knowing that he had "dismantled" the oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law. He did not mention ABS-CBN in the video of the speech aired by government TV station PTV-4. 

However, an audio recording of the whole speech showed that Duterte took a swipe at the network, saying: "Yun namang ABS-CBN binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas." 

(ABS-CBN sullied me. But I said if I win, I will dismantle the oligarchy in the Philippines.) 

Duterte in December said he would see to it that the network is "out" and from early in his term had accused it of failing to air his 2016 election ads. 

However, he accepted the apology offered by ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak over Duterte’s unaired political ads in 2016. 

Duterte was "moved" by Katigbak's apology, said Roque, who maintained that the President was "neutral" on ABS-CBN's license application. 

"Documentary evidence shows it was Congress who actually threw out the franchise application of ABS-CBN," Roque told ANC. 

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