ABS-CBN airs side at House hearing

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation on Monday debunked the alleged constitutional issues thrown against it during the joint hearing of the House committee on the legislative franchises and on good government and public accountability.

ABS-CBN President Carlo Katigbak emphasized that his company has not violated any law and has remained compliant with the constitution of the Philippines.

Katigbak pointed out that former Chairman and President Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III is a natural born Filipino citizen by virtue of his being born to Filipino parents, specifically his father, in 1952, consistent with the 1935 Constitution.

Katigbak also pointed out that the Philippine Depository Receipts issued by ABS-CBN Holdings Inc., has been cleared and upheld as legal by the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 4, 1999.

He added that ABS-CBN Holdings Inc. is a totally different entity from ABS-CBN Broadcasting Inc., which holds the congressional franchise of the frequencies. It is the same with GMA.

On the allegation that franchises are limited to a total of 50 years, ABS-CBN reiterated that the maximum 50 years is for a single term franchise and not the total limit of any single public utility franchise.

This is the reason that others – such as GMA7, Meralco and the like – have franchises going beyond 50 years.

Katigbak pointed out  the company was never transferred to the Marcos government. Rather, the broadcast facilities were used by Roberto Benedicto’s KBS/ RPN and BBC the later by the government’s PTV-4 until both had their own facilities in Broadcast City and Visayas Avenue, respectively. The Lopez family never sold it. The government with the Supreme Court returned everything fully six years later.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, author of House Bill (HB) Nos. 5705 and 6694, touched on issues first is the citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III and the PDRs. “As former dean of San Sebastian college, these allegations have no basis in law,” Rodriguez pointed out. “First, Mr. Eugenio Lopez III is born to Filipino parents. DOJ and BI have both recognized this.”

“The second issue is PDRs,” Rodriguez added. “It does not give PDR holders ownership of share. The SEC has issued permit. Therefore there is no truth in the allegations.”

“My mentors in ABS-CBN taught me a lot about work—the value of work, the importance of working for God,” said Parañaque City Rep Joy Myra Tambunting, author of HB No. 3713. “I support the franchise for the sake of Filipinos who depend on ABS-CBN for information and entertainment. ABSCBN has taught me the value of hard work.”

“ABS-CBN went above and beyond by helping those in need,” said Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, HB No. 3947. “All of this and many more is what ABSCBN is all about. In the service of Filipino. Lahat ng tulong na ito kapag walang bagong franchise ay magiging bahagi na lang ng kwento. ABS-CBN went above and beyond the obligations of a broadcast network by helping those in need, no matter how far they may be.”

“With the present situation of ABS-CBN, I am sad that 11,000 employees may be displaced,” said Deputy Speaker and Batangas City Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, author of HB No. 4305. “As a part of the entertainment industry, I share the sentiments of the talents of ABS-CBN.”