Infamous lawyer Larry Gadon has joined Jay Sonza and Rodante Marcoleta in opposing the recently signed joint venture agreement between media giants ABS-CBN and TV5.
In his recent interview with SMNI, Gadon, who has always been opposed to ABS-CBN, said the recent partnership deal between the Kapamilya and Kapatid network violated the latter’s franchise provision and thus can be used for its revocation or denial of renewal in the future.
According to Gadon, the deal was a way of circumventing the law after ABS-CBN failed to renew its franchise in 2020.
Gadon asserts that ABS-CBN has yet to settle its obligations to the government, and its joint venture with TV5 will cause damage to the Pangilinan-led media company.
Gadon stressed that ABS-CBN violated the 100% Filipino ownership clause for media companies; thus, their investment in TV5 will also taint the Kapatid network’s ownership status.
“ABS-CBN will buy into TV5 for at least 35% ng kanilang equity. Para sa akin yan ay isang paglabag doon sa franchise ng TV5.
“Maari itong maging sanhi rin ng kanyang revocation or denial of renewal kasi kung matatandaan natin na ang basic na prinsipyo dyan ay yung media organizations must be owned by Filipino 100% diba.
“Ngayon alam naman ng publiko na itong ABS-CBN ay tumanggap nung tinatawag nilang Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) na foreign owned. So therefore ang ABS-CBN ay meron nang bahid ng paglabag dyan sa ownership and control nang 100% Filipino.
“Dahil ang pera ng ABS-CBN ay pede nating matawag na one-money, iisa lang yung pera nya whether it comes from foreign sources or domestic sources.
“So dahil may kahalong foreign funds yung ABS-CBN, hindi mo pedeng ibili yung pera nito dun sa stocks ng TV5 dahil mahahaluan na ngayon ng pera ng banyaga itong pera ng TV5. Therefore it may be considered as a violation of the franchise privelege of TV5. So para sa akin may paglabag dito.”
However, during the Congressional hearing on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that ABS-CBN did not violate its franchise when it issued PDRs.
SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong, in his statement, said that as far as the SEC is concerned, ABS-CBN did not violate its regulations when it issued PDRs to the public.
“‘Yung Constitutional issue, yan nga po nasa Supreme Court but you are correct as far as your concern, wala kaming basehan para sabihin na nag-violate sila ng regulations namin,” Amatong said.
He also stressed that the Philippine Stocks Exchange has a mechanism to prevent foreign entities from investing in media companies in the country.
“Ang nangyayari, the PSE has a mechanism that non-Filipinos cannot acquire the shares of media companies with restricted ownership. They also have a mechanism to ensure that other partially nationalized businesses keep within the allowable requirements of the Constitution,” Amatong said.
“As far as we know, there has been no instance where the nationality restrictions for any of our companies that are engaged in fully nationalized or partially nationalized activities have been breached, and this is due to the mechanisms put in place between the PSE,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gadon also brought out the issue of ABS-CBN’s alleged tax violations, which were already answered also by the BIR during the franchise renewal hearing.
“Yung mga violations na ginawa ng ABS-CBN ay hindi naman pwedeng kalimutan yun ano, at daratingn din ang panahon na talagang magiging masusi ang pagiimplement nang batas sa kanilang mga violations.
“Gaya na lamang dun sa kanilang digibox, hindi pa sila nakakabayad ng kanilang penalties dyan. and yung kanilang mga violations sa kanilang tax aviodance nila, na kapag iyan ay talaga nireview ng BIR ay posible na makakasuhan pa sila ng tax evation at posibleng masingil pa sila ng bilyon bilyong pagkakautang.”
ABS-CBN and TV5 signed the historic joint venture deal on Thursday, August 11, which will allow ABS-CBN shows to reach a wider audience after losing its broadcast franchise in 2020.