ABS-CBN stood by the legality of the return of ABS-CBN broadcast facilities to the Lopez family, as it never lost ownership of the network even during Martial Law.
“Hindi po nawalay ang pag-aari ng Lopez family sa ABS-CBN at mga broadcast facilities and equipment even from the time when Martial Law was declared until today,” said Atty. Arecio Rendor Jr. at the legislative hearing on the franchise application of ABS-CBN today (June 15).
“Isang patunay ay ang titulo na na-issue sa ABS-CBN noong 1967. Kahit po shares of stocks nung nagsimula po ang ABS-CBN when it was incorporated, ay hindi po nawalay sa mga stockholders nito. What was taken from ABS-CBN was the mere possession of all its real estate and broadcast equipment,” he said.
Rendor, who was involved in the arbitration case of ABS-CBN to recover its properties, added that the return of real estate and broadcast facilities after the EDSA Revolution to the Lopezes underwent due process.
The process, he said, began when then ABS-CBN lawyer Lorenzo Tanada wrote to then President Cory Aquino on April 17, 1986 to return possession of properties to ABS-CBN since the country was no longer in crisis.
“This paved the way for the execution of the agreement to arbitrate on January 6, 1987,” he said.
Rendor further discussed the arbitration between ABS-CBN and the government, including the Supreme Court decision in October 16, 1989 upholding the agreement between the Cory administration and ABS-CBN for the return of the properties.
He said the process continued until the time of former President Fidel Ramos, when Branch 65 of Makati Regional Trial Court on June 23, 1995 upheld the decision of the arbitration board.
“Two administrations gave imprimatur for the return of the possession of ABS-CBN of its real estate, properties, and broadcast equipment. And even the Supreme Court won validating the agreement to arbitrate and another one for the factual circumstances lends constitutionality to the return,” Rendor said.
Rendor maintained that it was ABS-CBN that was prejudiced and the aggrieved party as the Lopezes, citing Section 9 of the Bill of Rights, which states that “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”
“ABS-CBN should be legally-compensated because the takeover, as far as ABS-CBN is concerned, the legal position, was not in accordance with law,” he said.
In his manifestation, Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., also said that Congress is bound to respect the pronouncement of the Supreme Court with regard to the return of the broadcast facilities to ABS-CBN.
“In raising the issue of constitutionality of the reacquisition of ABS-CBN of the sequestered assets, the oppositors to the franchise application are actually questioning the act of then Pres. Corazon Aquino of returning the assets of ABS-CBN. Without a court ruling that such act of then Pres. Aquino is unconstitutional, these committees and even Congress cannot declare the same act as unconstitutional,” he said.
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak earlier defended the Lopez family’s reacquisition of ABS-CBN in the June 1 hearing, saying that the move had the approval of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the Office of the President, and Supreme Court.
“This agreement, which received the nod of the Supreme Court in 1989, ordered PTV 4 to return the said facilities to ABS-CBN in 1992, six years after the EDSA revolution” he said.
He added this was the most hurtful accusation because ABS-CBN was forcibly shut down in 1972.
“The Lopez family never sold the network and gave up ownership. Groups just started to use its broadcast facilities without making any payments,” he said.