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Radio station manager fired

(IFJ/IFEX) - 10 September 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in expressing solidarity with workers taking industrial action at Radio Mindanao Network-dxDC Davao in the southern Philippines.

Workers at the broadcaster have formed a union and staged a protest on September 9 in support of station manager Maximo "Dodong" Solis, who was dismissed on September 6.

Staff of dxDC Davao are unionising amid concerns about staff cuts, restructuring and editorial independence.

Solis was fired without pay after 12 years of service, during which time the station had consistently topped ratings surveys in Davao City.

Under his management, dxDC Davao took an uncompromising stance in support of press freedom and played an active role in advocating for the prosecution of the killers of media workers in the Philippines, which remains one the world's most dangerous countries for media professionals.

Solis also led staff to reject attempts by senior management and the station's owners to influence programming at the station, to support a candidate in recent presidential elections after a lucrative advertising deal was reportedly negotiated with the candidate by account executives of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), the station's owner.

The Davao chapter of the NUJP reports that Solis had rejected cost-cutting measures proposed by RMN executives, which would have seen regional staff fired or forced to take on account executive roles in addition to their reporting.

"The IFJ is heartened to learn that colleagues of Dodong Solis are taking his unwarranted dismissal as an opportunity to stand together in unity and oppose further attempts by management to pursue a particular partisan or inappropriate cost-cutting agenda," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Their display of strength on such important matters of principle serves as an example to media workers throughout the Philippines, where we have seen that job security is just as threatened as journalists' safety and freedom of expression."

Separately, an industrial dispute has also been taking place since June 16 at one of the Philippines' largest broadcasters, ABS-CBN, where 110 workers have been sacked amid changes to contracts and work conditions.

Most recently, veteran reporter Wheng Hidalgo was fired on September 3 after 16 years with the station, when she refused to accept revised conditions of employment offered by the management.

Under the changes, ABS-CBN staff who seek reclassification from temporary to permanent employment are being denied back pay and other conditions offered other permanent employees.

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