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Reps. Jesus Crispin Remulla, Rodante Marcoleta, Mike Defensor defend Congress’ decision to kill ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal

Remulla thinks ABS-CBN executives have lied

AnaKalusugan Partylist Cong. Mike Defensor, along with Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Rep. Jesus Remulla and former ABS-CBN cameraman Journalie Payonan discussed in a Zoom live session ABS-CBN’s alleged violations in an attempt to clear up any questions about Congress’ decision to deny the network a franchise.

Payonan thanked the congressmen for pressing ABS-CBN on the alleged violations during the hearings, even calling the lawmakers ‘heroes’ for doing the right thing for the Filipino people.

His case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

“Hinihintay namin na sana lumabas na yung desisyon. Manalo, matalo tanggap namin yan,” said Payonan.

Marcoleta brought up the issue of ABS-CBN selling its ‘blackbox’ which allegedly was not approved.

“Naisip namin na isa sa maaaring mapagkunan natin ng pang alalay sainyo [ay] dapat pagmultahin ang ABS-CBN sa mga sa paglabag ng mga tuntunin sa NTC.”

Marcoleta said that the violation has run for 5 years and 4 months, which amounts to P1.97 trillion in fines for ABS-CBN as calculated by the lawmaker himself.

Remulla explained the issue briefly.

“Wala silang withholding tax na entrusted para dito. Kinomingle nila sa lahat ng accounts ng ABS-CBN etong black box. Dapat particular account to eh kasi. Nagbenta sila ng iisang bagay na hindi nila normal na binebenta, so dapat may trust account yan.

“Pero wala. Yung supposed to be payment dito sa VAT, dito sa black boxes at twelve percent. twenty billion,” said Remulla.

Defensor gave an example of how in the US, black boxes are handled and distributed by the government and not broadcasting companies.

“Sa US, nagkaroon ng digitalized kasi yung analog channel naging digital. Hindi inangkin ng broadcasting company. Yun ay ibinalik sa gobyerno at yung gobyerno binid out

“Tapos yung black box, [ang gobyerno] nagbibigay sa mga tao.”

“Ang isang channel lang na pwedeng gamitin sa telepono at sa telebisyon umabot sa two billion pesos ang  bawat isa.

“Itong digital channel na to, hindi dapat sa kanila yan. Dapat ibalik sa atin yan pagkatapos gawin natin anong nararapat para ang gobyerno na ang kumita,” Defensor said.

Marcoleta thinks that the BIR should investigate more into the tax issues against ABS-CBN.

“Yung ginawa ng BIR at ABS-CBN na kinompromise lahat ng kanilang bayarin. Di ba usapan natin kailangan maimbestigahan yun

“Yung ginawa nilang pagrerehistro ng Big Dipper kahit wala sa pamantayan na hinahanap ng bats.

“Ang SEC naman hindi lang man binantayan na yung PDR ay ibebenta kahit kanino,” he said.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have cleared ABS-CBN of any violations during the hearings.

Quezon City Revenue Region 4-A Director Alvin Galanza says they paid P1.15 billion in taxes to the BIR from 2016 to 2019.

“I think they are paying more or less correctly their taxes,” said Galanza.

PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza added that the tax incentives received by Big Dipper are legal.

“Itong lahat po ng incentives na binibigay namin ay based on the law, the PEZA Law,” Plaza told lawmakers.

“There’s no such thing as making PEZA the tax shield because all these incentives are being evaluated by all these agencies of government,” she added.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the other hand even admitted to having zero basis that ABS-CBN regulations on the issuance of PDR’s.

SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong said before lawmakers that the constitutionality of the issue should be left to the Supreme Court.

“‘Yung Constitutional issue, yan nga po nasa Supreme Court but you are correct as far as your concern, wala kaming basehan para sabihin na nag-violate sila ng regulations namin,” Amatong said.

“Ayon sa batas, ang kailangan register with the SEC are those securities that are offered to the general public or more than 19. Kaya ang alam namin, yung mga PDRs that were offered to more than 19.

“This includes the PDRs that were offered by ABS-CBN in 1999 and 2013. Kung mayroon pa silang ibang na-issue na PDR, hindi naka-rehistro sa amin kung mayroon man,” he added.

Amatong also said that both GMA-7 and ABS-CBN are compliant with PDRs.

“As far as we know, there has been no instance where the nationality restrictions for any of our companies that are engaged in fully nationalized or partially nationalized activities have been breached and this is due to the mechanisms put in place between the PSE,” he added.

The issue of Gabby Lopez’s citizenship was the most important issue for Marcoleta as it seemed too shady for him how the chairman emeritus was considered a Filipino citizen.

“Ang BID naman bigla bigla na lang nagbigay ng recognition of Filipino citizenship samatanalang hindi man lang nagbigay ng kahit anong katibayan si ginoong Lopez na nung sya’y pinanganak, Pilipino pa ang tatay niya.

“Yun ang pinakaimportante eh,” Marcoleta added.

The one issue that ABS-CBN doesn’t seem to have a definitive answer to is the one surrounding its title, Marcoleta alleged.

Marcoleta pointed out that ABS-CBN executives are always silent when this issue is brought up.

“Nung kinonfront natin sila, bigla silang natameme, biglang ayaw na sila magsalita.

“Yung titolo nila, bakit wala yung original copy doon sa board ng registry of dates.

“Yung pinagkunan ng kanilang titolo, forty two square meters lang ang pinagmulan ng kanilang titulo

“Papano nangyari yung land area nila ay 44,000 square meters

“Yung minota na for reconsitution, ibig mo sabihin yung date ng title nila December 26, 1967, hanggang ngayon pa di pa na reconstitute,” the lawmaker said.

Remulla also asked how ABS-CBN still holds ownership of Jusmag compound when it already belongs to the government.

Defensor said the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) should handle this issue, adding that the government was immediately granted ownership of Jusmag compound when the Americans left in 1992.

“Ownership [yan] ng US tapos nung nagkaroon na ng BCDA law, dapat bumalik na yan sa gobyerno,” Defensor said.

“Nung yan ay na abrogate na 1992, nawala na rin yan sa American jurisdiction, atin na yan dapat,” Marcoleta explained.

The lawmakers then talked about AMCARA and how ABS-CBN acquired it without notifying Congress which is a huge violation.

Remulla believed that questions regarding this issue have been answered during the hearings.

“Yung AMCARA ay kanilang escape plan. I made it my life’s mission to look behind AMCARA kasi parang maraming nakalibing.

“Yung violation ng ABS-CBN na hinawakan nila yung franchise na walang permiso sa Congress.

“Mag bablocktime sila sa sarili nila.

“Wala namang ito si Carandang, na supposedly binili yung shares na 49 percent, with the consideration of P40 million, hindi naman binayaran.”

“Pero ang AMCARA operating at a loss so papano magkakaroon ng dividendo.”

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak also promised Carandang assignment of equipment but that never happened.

“Ang sabi ni CLK ay iassign [yung equipment] kay Carandang, pero walang assignment at walang tax payment.

“So plinano nila na lokohin tayo lahat.

“Meron silang scapegoat, na nakablocktime sila sa isang kompanya na sila rin ang mayari at ilegal ang kanilang pag aari dito.”

“So bastusan talaga. They can really lie harapharapan na walang konsensya,” Remulla added.

Defensor discussed the Lopez family’s debts as it relates to the past ownership of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and NLEX.

“Nung 1995, sila rin yung may ari ng NLEX, binenta lang nila. Sila din yung mayari ng Nawasa.

“Yung pagbenta nila sa MWSS pinagutangan pa nila yung gobyerno DBP, P750 million.

“Nung hindi na nila mabayaran, nawala na lang yung pagkakautang,” said Defensor.

Marcoleta also said that the BIR still has to make up for its mistakes.

“Yung BIR sinabi raw inisyuhan sila ng tax certificate para akala mo ay blanket clearance.

“Sabi ng BIR isang assessment lang yun.”

Payonan asked what would happen to ABS-CBN’s frequency. Remulla replied saying that it will either be used by the government or will be auctioned to others who would want to use it.

“Gamitin ng gobyerno o ipa bid out sa mga gustong gumamit para makaraise ng pondo ang gobyerno,” said Remulla.

The NTC issued ABS-CBN a cease and desist on May 5 halting operations.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the order is “immediately executory.”

“A Cease and Desist Order is immediately executory but still appealable to the courts,” Guevarra told reporters on the same day.

“It’s up to ABS-CBN if it will comply. The NTC will have to enforce it if ABS-CBN does not voluntarily comply,” added Guevarra.

Written by Charles Teves

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