Probe on several issues related to ABS-CBN sought in House
MANILA, Philippines — The plight of ABS-CBN in the House of Representatives seems to be far from over after several lawmakers filed resolutions seeking an inquiry on issues related to the broadcast giant.
Just 12 days after the House committee on legislative franchises killed ABS-CBN’s franchise bid, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta filed House Resolution No. 1058 seeking an inquiry into the authenticity of the land title where the broadcast media giant’s offices and buildings are erected in Quezon City.
Marcoleta, who was at the forefront of the force opposing the continued operation of ABS-CBN, questioned the Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title (TCT No. 125702) presented by ABS-CBN for its property on Mother Ignacia Street during the franchise hearings, noting it was “only a poor photocopy.”
According to Marcoleta, he was able to secure a certified electronic copy of the title from the Registry of Deeds in Quezon City.
“Upon perusal of the certified electronic copy obtained from the Register of Deeds, the particular part that should indicate the title number of the immediately preceding title was suppressed, while the photocopy of the Owner’s Duplicate copy submitted by ABS-CBN contained the following information: ‘this certificate is a transfer from Transfer Certificate of Title No. 110731/T-557’,” Marcoleta pointed out in his resolution.
“This simply means that the alleged present title of ABS-CBN (TCT No. 125702), is a transfer or immediately precedes, from Transfer Certificate of Title No. 110731/T-557,” he added.
Marcoleta then claimed that upon verification of TCT No. 11031/T-557, he found out that the land title “pertains to a property with a totally different technical description, location, and area, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, to be the immediate predecessor of ABS-CBN’s title.”
“There appears to be no plausible explanation why ABS-CBN’s TCT No. 125702, which allegedly houses its main headquarters in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City with an area of 44,027 square meters, would originate from TCT No. 110731, a parcel of land described to be located in Brgy. Nagkaisang Nayon with a minuscule area of only 42 square meters,” Marcoleta said.
Probe Amcara Broadcasting Network
Meanwhile, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Boying Remulla, another lawmaker who voted against the franchise of ABS-CBN, also filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the probable violations of Amcara Broadcasting Network Inc. of its legislative franchise.
In filing House Resolution No. 1015, Remulla pointed out the block-time arrangement between Amcara and ABS-CBN which, the lawmaker said, allowed the continued airing of the latter’s programs despite its expired franchise.
Remulla claimed that Amcara violated Section 11 of its franchise when it “effectively granted usufruct of its legislative franchise, guise as being validly bought through a block-time agreement, to ABS-CBN.”
Remulla earlier accused Amcara of being a “dummy” of ABS-CBN, since it was ABS-CBN that provided equipment, such as transmitters, to Amcara, even though it only has a block-time agreement with the broadcast firm.
ABS-CBN chairman Carlo Katigbak, however, explained earlier that a block-time agreement is a common practice in the broadcasting industry.
“A block-time arrangement is a standard commercial agreement that is quite common in the broadcasting industry. It’s not just ABS-CBN that enters into a block-time arrangement,” Katigbak said in an earlier House hearing.
Lopez family and DBP
Another resolution was filed to probe whether or not ABS-CBN and the Lopez group of companies “unjustly benefitted” from the loans condoned by the Development Bank of the Philippines.
The resolution was filed by Marcoleta, Remulla, Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, Dumper PTDA Rep. Claudine Bautista, ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, and Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
According to the lawmakers, based on the submissions of ABS-CBN to the House, the lower chamber “has come to learn that Benpres Holdings Corporation (now called Lopez Holdings Corporation) which was given rights over a considerable number of ABS-CBN Corporation shares, benefitted from a large condonation or write-off from the DBP, along with other companies controlled by or affiliated with the Lopez family.”
The lawmakers claimed that the DBP loans condoned by DBP may exceed P1.6 billion which should have accrued to the Philippine government.
Probe PDRs of major broadcasting companies
Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago, meanwhile, filed House Resolution No. 984 which seeks an investigation of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRS) issued to foreigners by all major broadcasting firms in the country.
Violago pointed out that one of the issues raised during the hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise was whether the network violated the Constitution requiring 100 percent Filipino ownership and management of mass media when it issued PDRs to foreigners, which supposedly allowed non-Filipinos to own the network.
Violago is one of the authors of the bills that sought to grant ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise.
“In the interest of equity, equality, and fairness, it is proper that the other broadcasting companies’ issuance of PDRs to non-Filipinos be also looked into,” Violago said in the resolution.
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