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House probe sought into DepEd TV producers’ complaints

05:40 AM March 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A group of lawmakers is seeking a congressional inquiry into the Department of Education’s TV project, amid claims of delayed pay and unfair labor practices involving some producers and other workers hired for the program.

Members of the Makabayan bloc have filed House Resolution No. 1662, calling on the House labor and employment committee to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into the instructional television project between DepEd and private production company Ei2Tech.

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The legislators cited allegations of labor violations and delayed compensation, which first surfaced in December last year and became the subject of a two-part Inquirer special report earlier this week.

Promoting education

“The company Ei2Tech Inc. and officials must be made to explain their part and actions regarding the complaint of the executive producers,” the lawmakers said in their resolution. “It is obligatory upon the members of Congress to protect the constitutionally protected rights and promote the welfare of our workers and their families, regardless of terms of employment or engagement.”

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In July 2020, following the closure of schools due to the coronavirus, DepEd partnered with Ei2Tech, a company owned by veteran TV personality Paolo Bediones, to produce 20-minute videos covering essential learning competencies in different grade levels.

The project had an immediate appeal to seasoned producers and other workers, as some of them saw an opportunity to promote education.

But the project was hampered by changing work arrangements and other conditions that the hired producers began to question in the course of their work.

In interviews with the Inquirer, they recalled upholding another advocacy altogether— their own rights as workers.

As the Makabayan lawmakers noted in their resolution, the producers hired for the project were assured a monthly compensation of P60,000, but later found their pay being tied to a work quota, even though they had not agreed to this. They also found themselves being made to perform more and more tasks.

‘Industry practice’

“This is a notorious industry practice where talents and contractual workers are paid per segment or episode aired, not compensating the long nights and often the episodes that don’t get to air,” the lawmakers said.

“Workers are appealing to the DepEd to look into their plight, mainly because DepEd TV already started airing through different traditional and digital platforms,” they added.

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The government should “ensure that the outsourced companies it utilizes must be compliant with all labor laws,” the Makabayan lawmakers stressed, adding that workers of DepEd TV “should be properly compensated without delay, especially under the economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

They also said the Department of Labor and Employment and other government agencies should end “this notorious practice of contracting and subcontracting media, production and cultural workers, often subjected to long hours of work, noncoverage of mandatory government benefits and other social benefits.”

The resolution calling for the inquiry was signed by Bayan Muna Representatives Ferdinand Gaite, Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.

—Julie M. Aurelio

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, DepEd TV production, distance education, House probe, Makabayan
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