ONE by one retirees of RPN 9 have passed on leaving behind a world that could have been brighter for them and their loved ones.
The most recent to go was Tessie Mora, former program operations manager, who succumbed to cancer three months ago. For about four decades and under three presidents, she managed the sequestered network’s scheduling of mostly co-production programs owned by Malacañang friends, along with Malacañang special events which were always free of charge while paying clients with contracts were bumped off.
The stern and efficient lady executive often had to prevail over angry news, public affairs, engineering and marketing executives who would stand in the way of a mangled prime time programming. At times the bickering seemed endless with the finance department expressing its dismay over the frequent unbelievably-low airtime rates Ms. Mora was pressured to allow for co-producers and blocktimers. Sales managers would throw up their hands in despair in the face of projected and repeated losses from non-revenue programs which, according to the late and former Press Secretary Cerge Remonde were aimed to please an audience of “one.”
She was unquestionably dedicated to her work no matter what others would say and equally loyal to her staff whom she hardly turned away for any personal or family needs.
Ms. Mora’s family received no assurance from RPN 9 management controlled by Solar Entertainment for full payment of her remaining separation benefits. (Bereaved families of the other late retirees had wrongly expected such a humanitarian gesture.)
Some 140 employees and officers have retired from RPN 9 since 2005 under a memo of agreement that only allowed a 10% initial separation pay and monthly releases equivalent to the employees’ monthly salary. The agreement also provides for a review of the package to accelerate the payments which never came despite the numerous requests by the retirees. (Full payment for dead retirees is not covered.)
About 70 still healthy retirees, including this columnist, and more than 200 retrenched employees were hopeful that Ramon Ang who had fully acquired Solar TV that now manages the entire programming and marketing of RPN 9 would end their financial woes. Mr. Ang’s huge plans in Solar Entertainment Corp. were stalled last year due to the labor problems at RPN 9 which he as an incoming major investor would be forced to confront. The retirees’ pending costs of separation now stands at about P70M to P80M which given Mr. Ang’s abundant resources and a huge heart may just be a drop in the bucket. (Wilson Tieng has reportedly resigned as chairman of Solar Entertainment Corp.)
We recall that a massive retrenchment was undertaken against the said 200 regular employees in late 2012, who were forced to accept obscenely meager separation pay in clear violation of the two union’s CBA. They have since filed separate cases at the Court of Appeals against RPN 9 management and the Board of Directors chaired by Wilson Tieng and Solar Entertainment Corporation which has acquired 34% of the network.