It’s Not Over: Congress to Formally Investigate ABS-CBN Land Title on September 23
It’s been three months since the government denied ABS-CBN a congressional franchise, and it looks like the network’s ordeal is still not over.
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On September 23, the House will begin its investigation on the land where the ABS-CBN broadcast complex is located in Quezon City.
The investigation aims to determine whether the title submitted by ABS-CBN is legitimate.
It will be chaired by the House Committee on Justice, based on House Resolution No. 1058 by SAGIP Paty-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta as of July 22.
Issue of Land Title During Franchise Hearing
At the height of the hearings for ABS-CBN's request for a new franchise, the authenticity of the title to the land occupied by the ABS-CBN compound was raised.
It was said that ABS-CBN officials only presented a photocopy of the title during its hearings in Congress as they were not able to submit a certified electronic copy of the title.
The ELJCC Building, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, and ABS-CBN Entertainment Center are located in the triangular-shaped lot at Mother Ignacia Street, Eugenio Lopez Drive, and Sgt. Esguerra Street.
ABS-CBN's submitted title states that the land area covered by the broadcast complex is 44,027 square meters.
Marcoleta countered, saying that it was strange that the title presented by the network does not match the size of the location as per the Register of Deeds. He said he only saw 42 square meters stated in the land title.
According to the legislator, ABS-CBN's papers are questionable.
If the network does not prove that the land really belongs to them, the government may take it back.
On July 17, some lawmakers who opposed ABS-CBN announced their plan to conduct an investigation into the land where the Kapamilya network resides.
Leading the Zoom meeting were Marcoleta, Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla (7th District of Cavite), and Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Partylist). The meeting can be viewed on Defensor's Facebook page.
Their meeting took place just seven days after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises rejected the application of the new franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation.
House Resolution on ABS-CBN-AMCARA Ties
Other resolutions were filed by legislators on issues involving ABS-CBN, but these issues have yet to have a schedule for hearings.
This includes House Resolution No. 1015 by Cavite 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, with the aim of investigating ABS-CBN's alleged anomalous relationship with the AMCARA Broadcasting Network.
Based on the resolution, AMCARA allegedly violated Republic Act 8135 Section 11, the law that gave it a franchise.
Part of the provision strictly prohibits renting and using network resources to other broadcasting companies without the consent of Congress.
It was reported at the hearing of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises on June 29, 2020, that ABS-CBN invested 49 percent in AMCARA.
It was found out that ABS-CBN considers AMCARA a subsidiary in its document submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2012.
It can also be seen in an auditing document of AMCARA, in February 2017, that it was signed by Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III, chairman emeritus of ABS-CBN.
It also states that Gabby Lopez is the president of the AMCARA Broadcasting Network.
House Resolution on ABS-CBN Loans from DBP
Another resolution jointly filed by Marcoleta and Remulla is House Resolution No. 1040.
Congressmen Defensor, Claudine Bautista (Dumper Philippines Taxi Drivers Association, Inc), and Elpidio Barzaga Jr. also signed the resolution. (Dasmariñas, Cavite).
Also present were Eric Yap (Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support Partylist) and presidential son Paulo Duterte (Davao First District).
The resolution of the Good Governance and Public Accountability of Congress aims to investigate the alleged debts of some companies owned by the Lopez family.
It is said that the companies have debts to the government-owned bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines, which has not been written off or completely paid off.
Benpres Holdings Corporation—now Lopez Holdings Corporation—is said to be one of them, with a debt of up to P1.6 billion.
The resolution added, "WHEREAS, the impact of the loss of PhP1.6 billion is further compounded by the urgent need of funding for government programs to address the on-going pandemic."
This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. It has been translated to English by Esquiremag.ph editors.