MANILA – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Wednesday that the ownership of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. remained with the Lopez family despite the sequestration of the network during martial law.

During the House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise issue, Enrile said the title of the company’s broadcast facilities was never transferred to the government.

Enrile executed the sequestration order for all broadcast companies, including ABS-CBN, when president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

“The facilities of the entire ABS-CBN complex, broadcast complex, were placed under the control of the government. The title of all of these facilities was never transferred to the government. They remained with the owners,” Enrile said.

“Hindi tama yung sinabi ni Jake Almeda-Lopez na inagaw ni Presidente Marcos yung ABS-CBN (What Jake Almeda Lopez said about President Marcos taking away ABS-CBN from them is not true). It was part of the national policy to immobilize and control the communication system and the outlets for information in the entire nation and that is what we did,” he added.

Earlier in the hearing, ABS-CBN vice-chair Augusto Almeda Lopez claimed that the network had to retrieve their station themselves after the EDSA Revolution in 1986, stressing that it was not returned by the government.

“Noong nagkaroon ng EDSA Revolution, hindi naman sa pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko, kinuha sa amin ng Marcos ang ABS-CBN, sasabihin ko sa inyo na hindi sinauli sa amin. Kinuha namin, binalik namin sa sarili namin (When there was an EDSA Revolution, I don’t mean to brag but, when Marcos took away ABS-CBN from us, I’ll tell you that it was not returned to us. We had to take it back ourselves),” Almeda Lopez said.

Enrile noted that ABS-CBN was re-opened in 1973 for purposes of being used by the government to broadcast information throughout the country.

“In 1986, to be exact it was February 26, I, as Secretary of National Defense and sequestrator of ABS-CBN and all the other television, radio and communication facilities in the country, issued an order to lift the sequestration of ABS-CBN,” Enrile said.

“That was the last time I had any contact or involvement with ABS-CBN,” he added.

During the previous hearing on Monday, ABS-CBN stood by the legality of the return of ABS-CBN broadcast facilities to the Lopez family, as it never lost ownership of the network even during martial law.

“Hindi po nawalay ang pag-aari ng Lopez family sa ABS-CBN at mga broadcast facilities (The Lopez family did not lose ownership of ABS-CBN and its broadcast facilities) and equipment even from the time when Martial Law was declared until today,” said lawyer Arecio Rendor Jr., the network’s legal counsel.

“What was taken from ABS-CBN was the mere possession of all its real estate and broadcast equipment,” he added.

Rendor said that the return of real estate and broadcast facilities after the EDSA Revolution to the Lopezes underwent the due process.

The process, he said, began when then ABS-CBN lawyer Lorenzo Tanada wrote to then-President Cory Aquino on April 17, 1986, to return possession of properties to ABS-CBN since the country was no longer in crisis.

“This paved the way for the execution of the agreement to arbitrate on January 6, 1987,” he said.

“Two administrations gave imprimatur for the return of the possession of ABS-CBN of its real estate, properties, and broadcast equipment. And even the Supreme Court won validating the agreement to arbitrate and another one for the factual circumstances lends constitutionality to the return,” Rendor said. (PNA)

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