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Sotto questions PTV exec about reports of ‘bullying,’ lack of pay hikes for workers

/ 02:12 AM September 28, 2021
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned PTV general manager Kat de Castro on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, about alleged “bullying” incidents in the station and the lack of pay increases for its long-time employees. (Photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned on Monday the general manager of state-run People’s Television Network (PTV), Kat de Castro, about reports that some station officials had been “bullying” members of the news staff and that there had been no salary increases for its long-time employees.

“Information [about those issues] has reached us. Is it true that bullying is being practiced there by the officers?” the Senate president asked De Castro asked during the public hearing on the 2022 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

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He then cited an incident involving a PTV reporter who committed suicide.

“According to the co-employees, [the reporter] was overworked, underpaid, and confronted with issues of mismanagement in the news department regarding work schedule,” Sotto said.

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De Castro opted not to give details about the incident, citing the wish of the reporter’s parents not to discuss the issue.

She addressed, however, the allegations of bullying.

“With regards to the bullying, I would say that there are some issues saying that it’s has been happening — not just with the reporters but also other people in the news division,” De Castro said.

“What happened is I had to change the OIC of the news division at that time…In fact, every time there is an issue with being overworked or there is a problem with schedules, they can immediately get in touch with me so we can find a solution immediately,” she added, speaking partly in Filipino.

Sotto said he hoped that PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar would look into the matter.

“I hope the bullies have difficulty sleeping at night,” Sotto added.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the finance subcommittee tackling the PCOO budget, also lamented the alleged treatment of the employees there.

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“This representation is not going to sit idly by and let injustice in the PCOO — particularly in the PTV network — happen that way,” Gordon said.

“I run my people hard, but I mean I am always sensitive to what they have in their hearts,” he added.

No pay increase

Sotto then raised the issue of salary increases for PTV employees.

Citing a news report, Sotto brought up the complaints of PTV employees over the “demoralizing situation.”

“The People’s Television Employees Association is requesting for the approval of complementary salary adjustment because 70 percent of the PTV’s workforce have had no salary increase for the last 15 years,” the senator said.

“So, may I know from the PCOO, or you Ms. De Castro, if the request of the employee’s association had been considered for the 2022 budget?” he asked.

De Castro admitted that there are employees who have not been covered by the modified salary scheme that was implemented in 2017.

She said only 40 percent — or 68 employees — were covered at the time.

“Seventy or 60 percent or roughly 102 employees did not receive any [increases under the] modified salary scheme,” she said.

In previous years, De Castro said PTV employees had been making appeals for a salary increase to the Office of the President.

Amid the pandemic, she said many PTV workers were still hoping for a salary adjustment for being the “media frontliners” of the government.

In 2021, she said they wrote to the Office of the President requesting for a complementary salary adjustment (CSA) for the employees not covered by the modified salary scheme in 2017.

“The last update we got from the OP, they are reviewing the CPCS or the compensation classification system which is supposed to solve the CSA request of PTV,” De Castro said.

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If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).

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TAGS: 2022 PCOO budget, Kat de Castro, PTV bullying, PTV pay increases, Vicente Sotto III
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