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FACT CHECK

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: YouTube channel makes several FALSE claims about ABS-CBN labor cases

YouTube channel Showbiz Fanaticz, a habitual disinformation peddler, has again made false claims in a video it uploaded on Feb. 13. This time, it said the Supreme Court (SC) recently “junked” a petition by media giant ABS-CBN in a labor case it is embroiled in, while dragging one of the network’s journalists in its falsehood.

The online channel makes several inaccurate claims.

First, Showbiz Fanaticz incorrectly interchanged its references to the SC and Court of Appeals (CA), which are two different bodies.

The SC is the highest court in the Philippines’ judiciary system. The CA, on the other hand, exercises jurisdiction on all appellate cases “not falling within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”

Second, Showbiz Fanaticz claimed that the CA ordered ABS-CBN to pay “hundreds of millions” in damages to its “thousands” of its employees. It cited as its source a Feb. 11 report by the state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA).

This is wrong. The PNA story was about a Feb. 4 CA ruling which denied ABS-CBN’s petition to review an earlier order for the network to pay two of its former employees who were illegally dismissed in 2012.

According to the state news agency, the network will pay Ellen N. Lagat and Simonette C. Soriano P245,150, an accrued amount of their salaries and legal fees. A Feb. 12 Business World article on the said CA ruling, meanwhile, said that the amount owed by ABS-CBN to Lagat and Soriano totaled P697,000.

The amount could not be independently confirmed as a copy of the decision is still not available on CA’s website.

Third, Showbiz Fanaticz spuriously dragged ABS-CBN journalist and anchor Karen Davila in its falsehood. It posed that Davila tweeted that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has cleared ABS-CBN of labor law violations. But the tweets flashed in the video had nothing to do with the labor cases as the broadcaster did not tweet about the recent CA decision.

The three tweets flashed in Showbiz Fanaticz’ video were Davila’s but they were made in February, May and August 2020 and were about the network’s franchise issue.

A labor case involving ABS-CBN heard by the SC was promulgated in September 2020, and was uploaded online last Jan. 21. It was a consolidation of eight petitions filed several years ago: two regularization cases and six illegal dismissal cases between ABS-CBN and its workers seeking to reverse decisions made by the CA.

The High Court ruled in favor of the petitioner-workers in all eight cases. The decision did not declare the amount ABS-CBN needs to compensate the illegally dismissed workers, and ordered the network to cooperate with the National Labor Relations Commission for the computation. None of this was mentioned in Showbiz Fanaticz’s video.

Showbiz Fanaticz spurious video came five days after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed spite toward ABS-CBN and said he “will not allow” the network to operate “until the Lopezes are able to pay their taxes.” Duterte also alleged that the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) wrote-off loans of Lopez-owned companies.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has declared repeatedly that ABS-CBN has been “regularly paying its taxes.” The DBP also belied Duterte’s claim and denied nullifying the Lopezes’ more-than-a-billion worth of loans.

Showbiz Fanaticz’s false video has been viewed over 281,000 times. According to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, it already has over 3,100 Facebook interactions — mostly from private shares of the video— and could have reached almost 227,000 netizens.

Its top traffic generators are public groups Valid IDs in the Philippines (Community Info Sharing) and GLENN CHONG For SENATOR Movement.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)