By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to probe allegations of delayed compensation and other complaints of media and production workers from various media organizations involved in DepEd TV.
In a statement, Gatchalian said that media workers and executive producers (EP) of Ei2 Tech, Inc., a production company tapped by the Department of Education (DepEd) to produce TV episodes for distance learning, demanded the release of their payments.
Some of them reported that they have not received full compensation from the company for rendered work since September 2020.
The EPs said that they were promised to receive payment on December 18, 2020 but they never received compensation despite their non-stop work. That same month, 15 EPs wrote to television host Paolo Bediones, Ei2 Tech, Inc. owner, to seek an explanation on the delays and to call for the release of their payments. When the letter was leaked to the media, the EPs said they were threatened by Bediones with libel.
DepEd has clarified though that its engagement with the company at first was purely on a voluntary basis. It was on December 29, 2020, that the agency awarded Ei2 Tech, Inc. a P45.5 million contract for the first phase of the DepEd TV project.
As of the second week of March, DepEd officials said it has released P9 million partial payments to Bediones’ company and cited delays in accounting transactions. The second phase of the project amounts to P200 million and is currently going through a bidding process.
“Ang mga media workers na naging bahagi ng DepEd TV ay may malaking ambag sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon ngayong panahon ng pandemya kaya dapat naman siguraduhin natin na hindi nahuhuli ang bayad sa kanila bilang sukli sa kanilang serbisyo,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Changing policies was another concern that the EPs raised. While most of them were initially promised by the company a monthly flat rate payment of P50 to 60 thousand per person, they were told later on that they will instead be paid P3,750 per episode. Worse, they claimed that they were asked to produce official receipts (ORs) last minute because they are considered “suppliers” since they are not regular employees. If they can’t produce ORs, they were told to ask for assistance from the company’s accountant to process them for a fee of P5,000. (AI/MTVN)