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Photo Courtesy of KidZania Manila Facebook Page

KidZania Manila to shut down on August 31 

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KidZania Manila, operated by ABS-CBN Corp. subsidiary Play Innovations Inc., announced its permanent closure on August 31 after five years of operations.

In a regulatory filing, ABS-CBN noted the losses incurred due to the implementation of lockdowns designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.

"With the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing community quarantine, we have complied and suspended operations to prevent the further spread of the virus, which resulted to a massive impact on our revenues," it said.

"Even we are allowed to operate in the future, the 'new normal' will prohibit mass gathering and require children to remain at home. These conditions have left us with no choice but to close the play city's doors permanently," it added.

Located at the Park Triangle in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, KidZania Manila is a "kid-sized city" where children can explore over 60 role-playing activities in establishments found in regular cities.

"Our hearts go out to our employees. We are doing everything we can to aid them at this time of uncertainty, including paying out severance benefits as mandated by law and providing job placement programs for them. We appreciate all their hard work," said ABS-CBN.

"We are also grateful to our industry partners and the schools and families who have trusted us over the years," it added.

"Lastly, we salute our Kals—the Generation KidZania—who have spent time with us with unrelenting passion and spirit, which we hope they will keep alive as they face the future and build a better world."

In May, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said over 525,000 or 52.66% of MSMEs in the country had to stop operations due to the lockdowns.

The Philippine economy was placed in a standstill in March to May, when Metro Manila and other "high-risk" areas were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 17 to May 15, followed by a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 31.

Looser restrictions have since been in place under the general community quarantine (GCQ) which was implemented starting June 1, and extended to last until July 31.

Aside from KidZania, ABS-CBN is primarily involved in television and radio broadcasting, as well as cable and direct-to-home television distribution and telecommunications services overseas, movie production, audio recording and distribution, video/audio post-production and film distribution.

Other activities of the subsidiaries include merchandising, internet and mobile services, publishing, and money remittance.

Earlier this month, a House of Representatives panel voted to deny the network's franchise application, even as several government agencies maintained that it had no violations.

President Rodrigo Duterte had been consistent in threatening to oppose the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, as he earlier claimed the network did not air political advertisements during the 2016 election campaign which were already paid for.

In February, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak apologized for the unaired political ads of Duterte. This was accepted by Duterte two days later, as he said he would not interfere with the franchise renewal process in Congress.

Government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), have cleared ABS-CBN Corp. from violations.

In an unedited speech of Duterte this month, he mentioned ABS-CBN, along with other businesses, as he claimed he dismantled oligarchy in the Philippines.

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