“Rewarding Olympic winners, keeping media as losers.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter took note of news reports that former Baguio mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. will reward University of Baguio students who participated in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The former mayor reportedly said their family corporation, NakTayNay, Inc., would give silver medallist Nesthy Petecio and fellow Olympic qualifiers Eumir Felix Marcial, Carlo Paalam, and Irish Magno P250,000 cash reward each.
The Bautista clan owns the University of Baguio and managed by a private family corporation.
In a statement, the NUJP said that it “commends this generous initiative to recognize our Olympians and further encourage them to excel, but is alarmed that our Sun*Star Baguio (SSB) colleagues have not yet received any separation and settlement of benefits.”
The Bautista family stands as local shareholder / partner for the Cebu owned Sun*Star chain of community daily newspapers, which stood as the sole daily newspaper in the Cordillera for close to three decades
The NUJP hopes the Bautista family would likewise extend the same sense of community and responsibility to their former employees of SSB, who lost their jobs in the midst of the pandemic.
The publication ceased its operation last January and announced its full closure on May 3 this year.
Reinaldo Jr. served as the publisher of SSB while his sister, Jennifer Biagtan, managed the newspaper and its publishing enterprise.
The Bautista scions own 20% of the local Sun*Star Baguio shares before the outfit’s closure. Initially, the family controlled 40% of the Baguio affiliate while the Cebu main office owning the majority 60% shares. The Sun*Star Pampanga office took over 20% of Bautistas’ share in 2018.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, SSB reporters and staff labored and struggled to ensure prompt and accurate delivery of urgent information to the public. Like many Filipinos, they have been struggling to cope with the economic and social impact of the COVID-19. The loss of their job and delay of economic benefits exacerbate the challenges they face every day as the pandemic rages.
The NUJP urges the Bautista family to fast-track talks with Sun*Star officials, settle their affairs, and deliver Sun Star’s responsibility to their former employees. They should immediately give their full separation pay and ensure that their benefits during their employment are completely paid.
NUJP will “also support our SSB colleagues if they decide to seek legal action against the management to obtain what is due to them,” the statement ends. Frank Cimatu is the Chairperson of NUJP Bagui-Benguet