'Due process. Bawal judgmental!': Sotto says ABS-CBN property 'constitutionally protected' vs govt takeover

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 11:14 AM

'Due process. Bawal judgmental!': Sotto says ABS-CBN property 'constitutionally protected' vs govt takeover 1
Senate President Vicente Sotto III gives a manifestation during the Senate session on May 19, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday criticized several lawmakers' alleged plan to take over ABS-CBN's properties after the network was denied a broadcast franchise.

The 1987 Constitution gives "weight" to private possessions, Sotto said in a tweet.

"Takeover ABS-CBN property? Private property is constitutionally protected. Possession is given weight," he said.

Last week, several lawmakers who voted to kill ABS-CBN's franchise renewal bid at the House of Representatives insisted that the government can take over the broadcasting company's assets in its Quezon City headquarters, since the network allegedly holds questionable land titles.

In a Zoom meeting streamed on Facebook last week, House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor discussed how former ABS-CBN cameraman Journalie Payonan and his colleagues can operate the network's facilities should the government succeed in seizing the assets.

"There is a venue, the courts, and there is due process. Bawal judgmental! (People can't pass their own judgment!)" Sotto said.

Despite the video recording, Defensor said their group was not planning to take over ABS-CBN.

The lawmakers who discussed the possible seizure of ABS-CBN's assets and proposed imposition of a nearly P2-trillion fine against the network were among the 70 lawmakers who voted against the renewal of the former media giant's franchise earlier this month despite being cleared by regulatory agencies of any violation.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange last Monday, ABS-CBN said it had "no knowledge of any proceedings that impose fines or penalties or claims against" its Quezon City property.

The shutdown of ABS-CBN's broadcast business has forced the company to begin laying off most of its 11,000 workers in the ABS-CBN group of companies amid rising unemployment due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.