MANILA — A plot to possess the land where ABS-CBN Corp. is headquartered is illegal and unconstitutional, a lawmaker said on Tuesday, after his colleagues bared plans to "take over" the Quezon City lot following their rejection of the company's franchise renewal bid.
A Zoom meeting among congressmen last Friday revealed their plan to go after ABS-CBN's compound and its assets in Quezon City, after the company failed to obtain a new franchise from a House committee to broadcast on free TV and radio.
Among the participants in the virtual meeting were House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor, and Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla.
But according to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, his colleagues' plan is "unconstitutional."
"That's against the rules, against the law. Unconstitutional 'yan dahil sinasabi sa Constitution na bigyan ng due process. If you're in fact deprived of life, liberty, and property, dapat dadaan 'yun sa proseso na ayon sa ating batas," Zarate said.
Marcoleta raised questions on the validity of ABS-CBN's title to the property during the franchise hearings.
But Zarate said the certified true copy of the title submitted by the network to the legislative franchises committee was an "incontrovertible proof of ownership" unless found invalid by the court.
Marcoleta can question the matter before the court but would need to prove that he is a "party in interest," said Zarate.
The Lopez family has repeatedly maintained that it never lost ownership of ABS-CBN even after it was seized by the Marcos dictatorship during martial law.
Former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile had also testified before Congress and said the Lopez family never lost ownership of its broadcast properties.
"The titles of all of these facilities were never transferred to the government. They remained with the owner," Enrile told a congressional inquiry on ABS-CBN's franchise last June 17.
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Refus Rodriguez, one of the lawmakers who sought to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, said other lawmakers should just leave ABS-CBN alone as their move might already be perceived as "pure harassment."
"I think that is uncalled for... I urge my fellow members of the committee not to anymore pursue these kinds of actions which could be seen already as pure harassment," Rodriguez told ANC in an interview Tuesday.
On July 10, 70 lawmakers from a House panel decided to kill ABS-CBN's franchise bid, effectively shutting the network's free TV and radio broadcasts down for good.
Five days later, ABS-CBN Corp. announced that it would cease the operations of some of its businesses and lay off workers effective August 31, 2020.
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