Dismissed station manager sues RMN for alleged illegal dismissal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 September) – Dismissed radio station manager Dodong Solis on Thursday sued his former employer, Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), for alleged illegal dismissal, saying he is going to fight the injustice done to him in Court.

“I’m here just to seek justice,” Solis told reporters. “As a broadcaster, we always tackle in front of the microphone the injustices done to other people, but in most cases, when the injustice is done to us, we are at a loss.”

Solis filed at 3:30 p.m. charges of  illegal dismissal with money claims against RMN vice president for operations Carlos “Charlie” Canoy, assistant vice president for operations Rey Bayoging, vice president for finance Ruben De Gracia; and president and chief executive officer Eric Canoy.

The NLRC regional arbitration branch XI under Labor Arbiter Elmer Pasion scheduled the first set of mediation hearings on October 26 and November 3 this year.

“If they can do what they have done to me, who is part of the management team, what more can they do to ordinary media workers?” asked Solis, who also used to serve as the area manager of the Mindanao clusters composed of Marbel, General Santos, Cotabato and Davao.

Alleged grounds

The company dismissed Solis on September 6, citing as grounds Solis’ alleged defiance to the company’s “lawful orders” and “failure to submit the political sales reports.”
Earlier this month, RMN’s lawyer, Jorge Sacdalan, said Solis was fired after an internal investigation that ran for 30 days.

Also in an earlier interview, Carlos Canoy told MindaNews that they found DXDC and other radio stations supervised by Solis to have aired more commercial spots than what was specified in the contracts. “Some of the commercial ads do not even have contracts,” Canoy said.

“Pay first, bill later”

But Alex Roldan, a former RMN anchorman, explained that the radio station had a policy during election period to require their political advertisers to pay first before they aired their campaign materials. Since the billing would require a report of performance, the payment was immediately forwarded to Manila only to be billed later, when the airing had been completed.

“Sometimes, they make it sound that there was money involved,” said Solis, “But they already got the money and it’s only the report that has yet to be done.”

An RMN audit report conducted in July gave RMN Davao a 98 per cent rating, without counting the unbilled advertising contracts. When the unbilled contracts were included, the audit report gave the radio station a 104 per cent mark for exceeding the targets.

“Not enough”

Solis said the reasons cited by the company were not enough grounds to dismiss him.

He admitted, though, that he defied an unsigned memorandum before the May 10 elections, ordering him to edit reports about a political candidate running for the presidency, to “make it sound positive and not like a smear campaign.” The unsigned memorandum also instructed him to send to the main office the tapes on air (TOA) as proof of airing.

He said he ignored the order because it interfered with his editorial judgment and might destroy the credibility that the radio station had taken years to build.

Among the unsigned orders that Solis showed was dated April 27, 2010, which dealt with a “psych report” to be aired within the 7:00 to 7:30 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. time slots, discussing the reported psychological make up of a candidate running for President.

On May 7, 2010, or three days before the elections, the station was also ordered to report, “Dagdag-sahod sa kawani ng gobyerno at mangagawa, sisiguruhin ni Villar sa unang 100 na araw na pagiging pangulo (Villar assures pay hike for workers and government employees).”

Solis said he ordered the traffic worker not to air these reports because they were propaganda for a certain political candidate.

He said RMN-Davao’s DXDC station had topped the surveys in the last 12 years in the Davao region because they earned the trust of the people. “We cannot just destroy that trust by airing propaganda,” he said. When the company placed Solis under preventive suspension, the radio station topped the latest survey by AC Nielsen.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Davao Chapter said it supports the fight of Solis. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)