GMA retrenches 200 staff to ‘streamline’ reg’l stations
Network scraps morning TV program in Cebu; Layoff focuses on news teams in Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Naga, Cagayan de Oro, and Ilocos
TV correspondent Jun Veliganio was about to go on air to deliver a live report in Cebuano for GMA’s afternoon newscast on Friday when he got a call at 5 p.m.
The news desk asked him to return immediately to the station in Busay, Cebu City.
Back at the office, Veliganio, 47, was stunned to receive his walking papers.
Cebu station manager Ann Marie Tan told Veliganio that he was one of several workers that the network had to let go.
A retrenchment, to take effect on the last day of May, rolled out in all GMA regional stations – Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Naga (Bicol) and Ilocos – where news operations were scrapped or downsized.
The move was announced simultaneously on Friday and displaces about 200 personnel – reporters, video cameramen, editors, technical crew, and talents. The actual figure, based on sources in the network, was not officially announced.
Most of the layoffs were in the news department.
A brief statement from GMA Network for the regions issued by its corporate communications office said “GMA Network is in the process of undertaking a strategic streamlining of programs and manpower in its provincial stations to ensure business competitiveness.
“This has resulted in reduction of manpower and targets more efficient operations. Severance packages are offered by GMA to all affected personnel.
“GMA Network greatly appreciates the contributions rendered by our Kapuso in the regions and we wish them all the best as they seek new opportunities outside the network.”
In Cebu, 18 posts were scrapped as “redundant” – 15 from the news department, two from engineering and one administrative post.
SOLO PROGRAM LEFT
The morning news program Buena Mano Balita was shut down, leaving only a 45-minute afternoon newscast of 24 Oras Central Visayas anchored by Bobby Nalzaro.
His co-anchor lawyer Rose Versoza, who is engaged as a talent, will not be retained. She was still on leave yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Several employees said they were caught off guard by the announcement and had no idea the company was having financial problems.
“Nganong ako man? Wala man koy derogatory record sulod sa tibuok panahon nga nanrabaho ko diri. (Why me? I don’t have a single derogatory record in my whole career with GMA),” lamented Veliganio in an interview with Cebu Daily News.
He said getting laid off was the last thing he expected as the most senior correspondent in Cebu.
Veliganio, a father of two, whose jolly disposition makes him well liked by media colleagues was a pioneer of GMA 7 in Cebu when it aired its first newscast as Balitang Bisdak in 1999.
The arrival of company lawyers from Manila on Friday set off rumors of a retrenchment.
Veliganio, who has worked for the network for 16 years, nine of them as a regular employee, said he was in a daze when he signed papers given to him.
He accepted the check for his separation pay of one month per year of service and his salary until the last day of May.
With tears flowing, Veliganio said he returned his company ID and station issued-cellphone.
“Sukad sa sinugdanan, nag-antos ug naninguha ko alang sa kaayuhan sa programa, apan sa dakong kasayon ila ko nga gisalikway,” he said.
(From the start of my work here, I sacrificed and did my best for the good of the program but just like that, I’m being rejected.)
The television giant scrapped the newscasts of its four newly opened regional offices in Bacolod City, Cagayan de Oro City, Naga City and Ilocos.
Asked about the scope of the retrenchment, Jojo Aquio, senior manager for News & Public Affairs of the Corporate Communications of GMA, sent an e-mail reply to CDN: “The strategic streamlining being undertaken by the Network covers all of its regional stations. While there is a reduction in manpower, GMA is not closing down any of its regional stations. There is no truth to reports saying that
GMA is closing down its Cagayan de Oro, Ilocos, Bacolod, and Bicol offices.”
He confirmed that morning news programs in Cebu and Davao were scrapped.
“GMA Regional TV, however, is further strengthening its flagship newscasts in the areas, 24 Oras Central Visayas and 24 Oras Southern Mindanao. Also, GMA Regional TV will still produce original programs in these areas in the near future,” said Aquio.
Veliganio, GMA Cebu’s most senior correspondent, writes a column for the Cebuano tabloid Banat News.
Married with two pre-teen children, Veliganio said he would go to his hometown in Bantayan Island, north Cebu for a break before deciding how to start another chapter of his life.
GMA also let go of Cebu correspondents Greggy Magdadaro, Bexmae Jumao-as and Mark Anthony Bautista.
Also retrenched were news producer Jessie Campos, junior desk editor Randy Gorion, three VTR editors and five cameramen.
Several talents of Buena Mano Balita, including two morning hosts – Yorie Deldig and Cheryl Pelayo-Dacua – and an associate producer were let go.
The changes leave GMA in Cebu with a solo broadcast in the afternoon and about five reporters and five camera men.
Several Cebu print and broadcast journalists went online to express sympathy for their GMA colleagues who lost jobs.
Some changed their Facebook profile pictures to black . A TV reporter of another station posted in his Facebook account: “How could you be so HEARTless?”.
A newspaper reporter added a hashtag in his post “#Kapusongwalangpuso.”
After turning over his ID cards to the station, correspondent Veliganio went home on Friday without waiting for his duty to end at 9 p.m. .
He didn’t punch out./ with Eileen G. Mangubat
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