A legislator on Saturday ruled out a congressional inquiry into the bankruptcy of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines “at this time” as a labor group urged the government to prepare safety net plans for some 23,000 workers who stand to be displaced over the shipbuilder’s debt woes.
“I do not think a congressional probe is necessary at this time. The responsible government agencies and the banks must be given time to sort everything out, but Congress will be following this case very closely,” said Leyte Rep. Henry Ong, chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.
Ong said the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Department of Labor and Employment must jointly intervene “to make sure the interests of all stakeholders are protected.”
“According to media reports, some banks did not have collateral protection when they extended loans to Hanjin’s Philippine unit. The pay and benefits of the 23,000 Hanjin workers must be among the priorities in the aftermath. The Hanjin workers and the government must not be left out of the decision-making process because this case is imbued with national public interest,” he said.
“This bankruptcy case must be handled methodically and delicately. The banking and shipping sectors must be protected from any aftershocks. I want verification from the BSP and SEC that the banks, their
shareholders, and depositors will not be adversely affected because of the Hanjin bankruptcy,” he added.
For its part, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said the government must not be complacent in cushioning the impact of the Hanjin bankruptcy on the affected workers.
“We urge the government officials not to be complacent. The government must prepare safety net program to save thousands of Hanjin workers who might lose their jobs in case Hanjin company shuts down due to its financial troubles. It could become a national economic and security disaster issue for the country if we just stand by and do nothing,” said TUCP president Raymond Mendoza.
“It’s not just the workers who might be affected. It’s also their families who will also suffer with the consequences. So, there must be a multi-government plan to cushion the impact of unemployment and loss of income just in case,” he added.
Companies the size of Hanjin are usually required by DOLE to have a retrenchment plan for their employees.
However, in the case of Hanjin, the TUCP is not aware of any contingency measure yet, Mendoza said.
Hanjin earlier filed a voluntary rehabilitation because of growing financial obligations to banks and financial institutions in Philippines and Korea.