Figures sent by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to the Office of the Solicitor general (SolGen) on Friday showed ABS-CBN has far less number of employees than what the broadcast giant has been claiming.
In a letter to SolGen Jose Calida dated 21 February 2020, the BIR said ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. have a total of only 4,401 employees, way below the 11,000 the Kapamilya network has been claiming in its efforts to renew its franchise which expires 30 March.
The Internal Revenue based its findings on the Annual Information Return of Income Taxes Withheld on Compensation and Final Withholding Taxes submitted by both ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence Inc.
The BIR document showed ABS-CBN Corp. has 4,322 employees while ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. has 79 as of 31 December 2018.
This development comes ahead of a Senate committee hearing set on Monday for deliberations on the franchise renewal of the network giant with no less than Calida among those being summoned to appear.
Calida was the one who filed a quo warranto petition to the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to revoke the network’s franchise based on three grounds — offering pay-per-view services without permit;
using the franchise of a company it acquired without congressional approval; and ceding foreign control by issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts or PDR.
The petition was met with fierce opposition from the network, its supporters, some politicians and even leftist groups which led Calida to ask the High Court to issue a gag order on ABS-CBN.
The move, however, was seen by media and human rights groups as an effort to clamp down on press freedom.
High Court order
The SC, on the other hand, ordered ABS-CBN to submit its comment to the gag motion within five days.
“In accordance with due process, the Supreme Court has ordered ABS-CBN Corporation and ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. to file their respective comments within a non-extendible period of 5 days,” said SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka in a previous press briefing.
Calida cited as violations of sub judice some ABS-CBN news items, including a video explainer of the technical terms in the quo warranto petition including PDR.
“The statements uttered by Christian Esguerra in the video tend to influence public opinion and unfairly encourage the prejudgment of the instant case — that in the event that the petition will be granted, the Filipinos will experience a sense of unjust treatment as they would be deprived of their favorite shows in ABS-CBN,” said Calida in an earlier statement.
Other news items which Calida cited are — television reports airing the answers of ABS-CBN to the allegations, “commentaries,” as well as articles quoting various experts in the discussion of the issue.
On Friday, over 2,000 employees and artists of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation took to the streets with other groups to call for the renewal of the network’s expiring franchise, with some carrying candles and placards saying “#YestoABSCBNFranchiseRenewal” around the company compound in Quezon City.
Also, groups such as the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines and Altermidya, political parties Bayan Muna and Gabriela and the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication attended the rally.
ABS-CBN CEO and president Carlo Katigbak on Thursday said the network does not have to stop operations and they are ready to follow the legal process.