ALL-OUT SUPPORT. Broadcaster-turned-Senator Raffy Tulfo vows to support the Office of the Press Secretary and its attached agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations during a Senate budget hearing on Monday (Oct. 10, 2022). Tulfo particularly pushed for the improvement of PTV4's facilities and benefits for its employees. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – Senator Raffy Tulfo on Monday promised to support the improvement of facilities and reorganization of the People's Television Network Inc. (PTNI), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) that currently operates under the supervision of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

During the OPS's budget hearing at the Senate, Tulfo asked the OPS to explain the issues that PTNI or PTV4 is facing concerning its facilities and the benefits of its employees.

"Mahalaga po ang papel na ginagampanan ng OPS kasi kayo ang nagbibigay ng magandang imahe sa administrasyong ito. Yung mga proper information dissemination nanggagaling po sa inyo yan (OPS has a very important role because you give the good image for this administration. The proper information dissemination comes from you)," Tulfo said.

“Unlike sa mga nakikita natin sa social media na puro fake news, kayo po ang palaging nagbibigay ng tamang impormasyon at kayo po ang pini-pickup ng iba't ibang (from what we see in the social media where fake news is rampant, you always give the right information, and you are being picked up by other) media outlets," he added.

Tulfo, who started as a PTV4 reporter and eventually became one of its newscasters, made the statement after showing a video of PTV4's old facilities.

He also called for the regularization and salary increase for PTV4 employees.

OPS Undersecretary Rowena Reformina assured Tulfo that the OPS fully supports the idea, emphasizing the need for a new table of organization duly approved by the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG) to fix the problem.

"What we did, we've transmitted a table of organization proposal, assisted by the Development Academy of the Philippines, on first week of September that will serve as a basis for the promotions, yung (the) movement sa kanilang (of their) salary grade, because there has to be a standard of course para patas naman yung iba't ibang (to be aligned with other) GOCCs," Reformina said.

PTV4's Head Executive Assistant Raymund Sanchez said they are also currently finalizing their staff work which will be done and submitted to OPS by this month.

"Ang isang isyu na lang na nire-resolve ay funding requirement. Alam naman ng lahat na ang PTV continuously on losses na for the past more than a decade na. Ito ay malaking problema pero ginagawan natin ng paraan to (Another issue that we are resolving is the funding source. We all know that PTV is in continuous loss for more than a decade. This is a big problem but we are working on it)," Sanchez said.

He asked the Senate for help in pushing the GCG to fast-track the review of PTV4's proposed new table of organization.

"Pwede daw kasi itong abutin ng six months kung tututukan pero pwede rin siyang abutin ng dalawang taon kung magkakaroon ng maraming problema (This will last accordingly for six months if prioritized but can also last for two years if many problems will occur)," Sanchez said.

"Dahil alam naming matagal itong prosesong ito, gumawa kami ng isang committee sa PTV kasama ang unyon at nakikipag-usap kami ngayon sa (Because we know that this process will last long, we created a committee within the PTV with the [labor union] and we are now talking to the) Civil Service Commission and GCG. Continuous ang aming discussion para mag-explore ng ibang opportunities. Para kung may (We have continuous discussions to explore other opportunities. So that if we can find) alternative solutions in the meantime, magawa namin (we can do it)," he added.

Meanwhile, OPS officer-in-charge Undersecretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil assured Tulfo that she will visit PTV4 this week to talk to its employees and address the problem of its facilities.

"Dadalaw po tayo diyan within the week para makita natin ang sitwasyon at kasama niyo ako sa paghahanap ng solusyon upang mapabuti yung kalagayan ng ating mga manggagawa sa (I will visit that within the week so we can check the situation and you are with me in finding solutions for the improvement of the situation of our employees in) PTV4," Garafil said.

She also asked for the senators to consider including PTV4's capital outlay that could help the TV station improve its facilities.

"Sige po, susuporta po ako kung ano pong magagawa ko (Okay, I'll support with whatever I can do). If it needs legislation na para mapaganda po ang sitwasyon ng (to make the situation better for) OPS, I'll do it. I'm with you," Tulfo said.

"Pasensya na po kayo (I am sorry). I'm being sentimental because once upon a time, andiyan po ako sa PTV4. Diyan po ako nag-umpisa. Hindi ko po siguro kayo makakaharap ngayon. I wouldn't be Senator Raffy Tulfo kung hindi dahil sa PTV4. Isa po yan sa nakatulong para marating ko po ang aking kinaroroonan ngayon (I was there at PTV4. I started there. I may not be here facing you right now. I wouldn't be Senator Raffy Tulfo if not because of PTV4. That is one of the things that helped me to get to where I am right now)," he added.

Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate Finance subcommittee, was saddened by the situation of PTV-4 and IBC-13 employees, vowing to work on the budget to include retirement benefits.

"Because the employees worked for it. That is money they earned," he told the Senate media.

"This committee will try to support the payment for the retirement benefits because that's due to them. Probably, we can also include a special provision under the OPS budget for that purpose so we can finish this once and for all," Ejercito said.

The lawmaker said this is the first time he chaired an OPS budget hearing and recalled his interviews with the two government TV stations.

"Yung kagamitan pati yung mga tao nila, antique na rin (The equipment and even the manpower are old already). It’s a really sad state," Ejercito said.

Out of the PHP1.040 billion being proposed by the OPS under the 2023 National Expenditure Program, PHP125.159 million was allocated for PTV4 's continuing modernization program to expand its reach and improve the quality of its programs.

The PTV4 is also proposing an additional budget amounting to PHP675.83 million for its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and capital outlay.

The OPS and its attached agencies are asking lawmakers for an additional PHP2.037 billion for its 2023 budget. (PNA)