Was ABS-CBN Really Sold to the Marcoses and Returned to the Lopezes for FREE?

One thing that has been going around for years now in the Get Real Community as well as communities supporting the Duterte Presidency, the Marcoses and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is the claim that the Lopezes sold ABS-CBN to the Marcoses and this was later given back to them for FREE by the former President Cory Aquino.

Versions of this claim was spread around by a number of strong social media influencers, one that caught my eye came from one named Mark Acebedo Lopez (who feels compelled to make it clear that he is not related to the ABS-CBN Lopezes, citing that he is directly descended from the Lopezes of Granada, Spain and not the Lo Pue’s of Southern China from which the ABS-CBN Lopezes came from).

In a post on Facebook dated April 2, 2017 which was shared over 2,000 times, Mark the heir of the Lopezes of Granada, Spain asserted:

This letter from the Lopez patriarch himself, however, indicate something else. More than cordial, Eugenio Lopez actually emphasized how he shared President Marcos’s vision for the country as he offered to sell the family’s stake in Meralco. This is in stark contrast to the narrative we often hear repeated by Yellow that Marcos undertook a hostile takeover of Meralco and ABS-CBN.

When Cory Aquino became president, she returned Meralco and ABS-CBN to the Lopezes free of charge, companies that have supposedly been bought and paid for by government (aka the Filipino people).

How lucky the Lopezes because they were paid when they sold it during the Marcos years, Cory subsequently returned the companies to them for free, and they profited a second time when they finally sold their stakes in Meralco not too long ago. Plus, the family still owns ABS-CBN.

 

Nabayaran ka na, ikaw pa rin ang may-ari, kumita at kumikita ka pa. Ayos.

Please spread the word.

The thing with Mark’s post and other similar posts that say that the Lopezes sold their companies to the Marcoses and the same companies were given back for FREE is that it is based on a bare claim.

What Mark and others shows us is a letter from Lopez Jr. offering, in this case, Meralco for sale, it doesn’t mean that Meralco had been sold. The proper proof of such a transaction would probably be documents showing the transfers of money and transfers of ownership.

If one were really interested in the circumstances and events showing how ABS-CBN was possessed by the Philippine government under then President Ferdinand Marcos is revealed in the Supreme Court Third Division decision contained in G.R. No. 133347 published on October 15, 2008. The decision was made on a petition for certiorari made by the Lopezes the Office of the Ombudsman, Roberto S. Benedicto, Exequiel B. Garcia, Miguel V. Gonzales, and Salvador “Buddy” Tan.

The petition challenges the Joint Resolution dated May 2, 1997 of then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto in OMB-0-94-1109, dismissing the complaint filed by petitioners against private respondents, and the Order denying their motion for reconsideration.

The Lopezes accused Benedicto, Garcia, and Tan of crimes penalized under the Revised Penal Code (RPC): (a) Article 298 – Execution of Deeds by Means of Violence or Intimidation; (b) Article 315 paragraphs 1[b], 2[a], 3[a] – Estafa; (c) Article 308 – Theft; (d) Article 302 – Robbery; (e) Article 312 – Occupation of Real Property or Usurpation of Real Rights in Property; and (f) Article 318 – Other Deceits.

And to head off any remarks that this is propaganda on behalf of ABS-CBN or the Lopezes (the ones from descended from Southern China not Granda, Spain) is that decision of the Supreme Court goes against their petition and in fact says that the government takeover of ABS-CBN was legal.

What the October 15, 2008 G.R. No. 133347 has to offer us is a complete account of how the government under former President Marcos took possession of ABS-CBN and WAS NOT AT ANY POINT BOUGHT or SOLD.

Below is the pertinent portion of that decision, for all of you to read.

Individual petitioners’ complaint-affidavits3 uniformly narrated the following facts:

1. The day after the declaration of martial law, or on September 22, 1972, just before midnight, military troops arrived at the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City, and informed the officers and personnel thereat of the seizure and closure of the premises by virtue of Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. 1 issued by President Marcos ordering the closure of all radio and television stations in the country.

2. LOI No. 1 authorized the Secretary of National Defense to “take over or control, or cause the taking over and control of all x x x newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media of communications” throughout the country. Consequently, a total of seven (7) television stations owned and operated by ABS-CBN were closed down by the government.4

3. When it became apparent that petitioners would not be granted a permit to re-open, ABS-CBN on October 31, 1972, terminated the services of all its employees, giving each employee his/her retirement benefits. Corollary thereto, sometime in November 1972, Eugenio Lopez, Jr., then president of ABS-CBN, wrote then Secretary of National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile,5 of their desire to sell ABS-CBN to the government. In that same month, however, Eugenio Lopez, Jr. was arrested by the military, and detained at Fort Bonifacio for almost five (5) years until his escape therefrom on September 30, 1977.

4. Subsequently, after the proposal to sell ABS-CBN to the Marcos government did not materialize, ABS-CBN started negotiations with then Governor of Leyte, Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, who expressed his desire and intention to acquire the former. However, the negotiations with Kokoy Romualdez in 1973 likewise did not result in the sale and re-opening of ABS-CBN.

5. On June 6, 1973, the television and radio stations of Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS) on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City were consumed by fire. KBS was the umbrella corporation of the Benedicto Group of broadcasting companies, including Radio Philippines Network (RPN),6 which operated TV Channel 9, the only television station allowed to continue operating during the early years of the martial law regime. Respondent Benedicto, then Philippine Ambassador to Japan, managed, controlled, and was one of the principal stockholders of RPN.

6. On even date, both Benedicto and Alfredo Montelibano, who at that time was Chairperson of the Board of Directors (BOD) of ABS-CBN, were in Bacolod. Benedicto constituted Montelibano as his emissary to the Lopezes, relaying his plan to temporarily use ABS-CBN’s broadcast studios in Quezon City, from which to operate TV Channel 9, for such period of time as may be necessary to rebuild KBS’ burned studios.

7. On June 8, 1973, Montelibano met with other officers and executives of ABS-CBN, including herein petitioners Oscar and Augusto Lopez, informing them of Benedicto’s request. Oscar and Augusto, and the rest of the ABS-CBN management team, strongly opposed the request. Eventually, however, when Montelibano mentioned that Malacañang and Romualdez had cleared said request, the possibility of a government-ordered confiscation of ABS-CBN, and not least of all, the possible release of Eugenio Lopez, Jr., petitioners Oscar and Augusto, as with the rest of ABS-CBN’s executives, acquiesced to Benedicto’s request.

8. Thus, at noontime on the same day, representatives of KBS headed by Jose Montalvo arrived at the Meralco Building to finalize the proposed arrangement with ABS-CBN. The transaction between ABS-CBN and KBS is evidenced by a letter-agreement dated June 8, 1973, which reads in relevant part:

This is to confirm the agreement arrived at between RPN and ABS-CBN to the following effect:

1. Commencing on the date hereof, ABS-CBN hereby conveys to RPN by way of lease its TV and radio equipment (excluding TV channels and radio frequencies) and its premises at the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center, Bohol Avenue, Quezon City (collectively called the “leased facilities”) listed in the schedule attached hereto and marked as Annex “A”.

2. RPN shall pay ABS-CBN monthly rental as is reasonable compensation for the use of the leased facilities. The amount of the rental shall be determined after a discussion with Ambassador Roberto Benedicto.

3. The term of this lease shall commence on the date hereof and continue for such reasonable time as may be normally necessary for the rehabilitation of RPN’s facilities unless an earlier period may be fixed by RPN and ABS-CBN after discussion with Ambassador Benedicto.

4. RPN hereby assumes full and complete responsibility for the leased facilities and shall be answerable for any and all losses and damages to such facilities.

x x x x

6. Upon termination of this lease, RPN shall return the possession of the leased facilities to ABS-CBN and vacate the same without the need of notice or demand.

7. ABS-CBN, through its Chairman, Mr. Alfredo Montelibano, shall have the right to select and designate the personnel (not to exceed 20 at any one time) to maintain and operate all specialized TV and radio equipment.

x x x x

10. ABS-CBN shall have the right to enter the Broadcast Center at any reasonable time during the term of this lease for the purpose of determining compliance by RPN of the terms hereof.

x x x x

12. RPN shall not, without the prior written consent of ABS-CBN, sub-lease the leased facilities or any part thereof nor shall any part be removed from the premises except the equipment, which are intended for operation the Broadcast Center in due course of operations.

9. Meanwhile, it appears that the parties were hard pressed to negotiate and fix the monthly rental rate. Several attempts by Oscar to set up a meeting with Benedicto for the fixing of the monthly rentals proved unsuccessful.

10. After more than four months of trying, a meeting between Oscar and Benedicto finally materialized on October 31, 1973. At that meeting, the discussion not only covered fixing of reasonable rentals for the lease of the ABS-CBN studios, but likewise included the possibility of an outright sale.

11. Thereafter, the discussions and negotiations stopped as none of the petitioners were able to meet anew with Benedicto who had supposedly referred the matter to “people above” and the “man on top.”

12. Frustrated, then Senator Lorenzo Tañada, as counsel for ABS-CBN, in May 1976, wrote Benedicto demanding vacation of the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center and payment of back rentals for the use of the ABS-CBN studios and facilities.

13. In response, Senator Estanislao Fernandez, on behalf of Benedicto, met with Senator Tañada in June 1976. Another meeting took place between the parties’ respective counsels which included respondent Gonzales, another counsel for Benedicto. Despite these meetings, no agreement was reached between Benedicto and ABS-CBN. On the whole, from June 8, 1973, the time KBS occupied the ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City, no rental was paid by the former to the latter.

14. In the years following until the Marcos government was toppled in 1986, the ABS-CBN stations were transferred to the National Media Production Center (NMPC) headed by Gregorio Cendaña of the Ministry of Information. Starting in January 1980, KBS, on a staggered basis, transferred possession, control and management of ABS-CBN’s provincial television stations to NMPC. Some of the radio stations of ABS-CBN were turned over to the government’s Bureau of Broadcast, while some were retained by KBS thru the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Philippines Network (RPN).

15. Parenthetically, during a military inventory in 1979-1980, and a visit by ABS-CBN executives at ABS-CBN’s radio transmitting stations in Meycauayan, Bulacan, headed by petitioner Augusto, on August 13, 1984, ABS-CBN properties and massive equipment were found to be missing. In addition, the musical records and radio dramas accumulated by ABS-CBN in a span of twenty-five (25) years and stored in its library were now gone.

16. In June 1986, President Corazon Aquino, acting on the request of ABS-CBN through Senator Tañada, returned to ABS-CBN these radio and TV stations on a gradual and scheduled basis.

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13 Comments on “Was ABS-CBN Really Sold to the Marcoses and Returned to the Lopezes for FREE?”

  1. Cory Aquino was a feudal oligarch crook, a political opportunist and an expert manipulator. The Aquino Cojunagco families were primary players in the financial frauds of the country; ever since Ysidra Cojuangco, stole the gold Spanish Mexican coins from the Katipunan treasury, and used the money to purchase the lands of the Hacienda Luisita. The land area of which is almost 70% of the land area of the Province of Tarlac.

    These people are crooks and fraudsters, in the worst order. They surpassed the evilness of the Italian Mafiosi and Cosa Nostra.

    Whatever, had taken place between the Aquinos and the Lopezes, must be fully investigated. If MERALCO and the ABS CBN belong to the People of the Philippines. We have to take over , what belongs to us…These feudal oligarchs must not manipulate us…

    Greed is the name of the game of the Feudal Oligarchs !

  2. What the heir of the Granada Lopezes stated about government ownership of ABS-CBS was allegedly a bare claim, you said. So do the affidavits of those who claimed otherwise. In fact there was nothing in their affidavits that definitely stated that there was no such sale, only “the possibility of an outright sale.” Could it be that the station was eventually sold but not mentioned in the affidavit? Where is the truth?

    1. I was thinking of that possibility.

      But then again, some record of it would have surfaced at the SEC.

      Moreover, the claims of ABS-CBN went through the Ombudsman and was probably vetted on the level of the ombudsman, otherwise the Supreme Court would have not recognized it in the decision.

      So unless those records of sale, as claimed by the Lopez of Granada surface, the Supreme Court records seem to be the truer account. No sale of ABS-CBN was ever consummated.

  3. For now, I partly agree with Mr. Farol’s contention that “the proper proof of such a transaction would probably be documents showing the transfers of money and transfers of ownership.” I look forward to this “proper proof” be publicly available in the future.

    But then, in lieu of that, if we read between the lines and ignore the emotional editorializing of Mr. Oscar Lopez in his open letter to Juan Ponce Enrile, we have something coming from him straight, statements and mentions of the following:

    1. “the signing of the Benpres-Foundation Stock Purchase Agreement”;

    3. “DBP and PNB gave their guarantees for the restructuring and refinancing of the Meralco loans”;

    3. “sale of the MSC shares by Benpres to the Meralco Foundation”;

    4. “evidence shows that on November 6, 1973 Meralco Foundation (MFI) was incorporated for the purpose of acquiring the shares of the Lopez group (27%)”; and

    5. “MFI had acquired 45% of MSC (now called First Philippine Holdings Corporation or FPHC)”;

    https://lopez-holdings.ph/news-2002/441-an-open-letter-to-juan-ponce-enrile

    1. The October 15, 2008 G.R. No. 133347 also offers us re the execution and validity of a “letter-agreement” between both parties:

      ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, EUGENIO LOPEZ, JR., AUGUSTO ALMEDA-LOPEZ, and OSCAR M. LOPEZ, petitioners,
      vs.
      OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, ROBERTO S. BENEDICTO, EXEQUIEL B. GARCIA, MIGUEL V. GONZALES, and SALVADOR (BUDDY) TAN, respondent.

      Excerpt:

      “Essentially, petitioners claim they did not freely give their consent to the letter-agreement. However, on more than one occasion, petitioners have invoked the letter-agreement’s provisions, and made claims thereunder.

      “First, petitioners met and discussed with respondents the fixing of the rental rate for the ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City as provided in paragraph 2 of the letter-lease agreement.

      “Next, petitioners’ counsel wrote a demand letter to respondents for the payment of rentals for the latter’s occupation and use of ABS-CBN properties pursuant to the letter-agreement.

      “Last and most importantly, petitioners have made a claim against the estate of Benedicto based on the same June 8, 1973 letter-agreement.

      “This action of petitioners clearly evinces their ratification of the letter-agreement.”

      It also states that, as petitioners, they have ratified the letter-agreement, even after the lifting of martial law and the toppling of the Marcos government. They advanced the validity of the letter-agreement due simply for that last stated reason above.

      https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2008/oct2008/gr_133347_2008.html

      1. Yes, still, no sale as no money changed hands and no documents showing change of ownership.

        More to the point, what was being discussed was the rental of the place and if my memory serves me right, ABS-CBN also sued for back rent.

        1. Why not try to get more information from Kit Tatad or Enrile they know more about this for sure.

  4. According to veteran journalist, Cecilio T. Arillo, in a series of articles in The Manila Times lifted from his book “Greed & Betrayal”, (1) documents were recovered from Malacañang at the end of the 1986 EDSA uprising and (2) from channel 4 during the Nov[ember to] Dec[ember] 1989 coup. Among the official documents included one titled “Summary of the answer of the Republic of the Philippines to the claim filed by ABS-CBN”.

    The documents reveal an alleged intricate web of greed, corruption, machination and tax evasion involving the Lopez family that covered 10 presidents, from [Manuel] Quezon to Aquino, over a period of more than two generations.

    Could it be due to those mentioned violations (machination and tax evasion) and indebtedness that prompted the government sequestration? For a man who was incarcerated during martial law, it’s quite interesting to note how Mr. Arillo summed all things up:

    “When the Lopezes retook Meralco, ABS-CBN, and other corporations after the EDSA uprising, they claimed that they were victims of the Marcos regime. But a set of documents gathered by this writer belied their claim, showing that they sold their Meralco shares without duress on Dec. 16, 1974 to Meralco Foundation Incorporated, which assumed the indebtedness of Benpres Holdings in Meralco Securities Corporation to foreign and local banks amounting to P101.1 million.

    “The deed of sale was guaranteed by the Philippine National Bank through a letter of credit it issued to the foundation for the purchase of the Benpres shares of stocks.

    “The foundation also assumed Benpres’ P9.5-million debt on stock subscription and an obligation to pay Benpres P48.6 million on its equity, payable by installment over a 10-year period at a 10-percent interest on the unpaid balance. In other words, what this particular set of documents showed was that the Lopezes were not victims of martial law but were in fact beneficiaries of martial law when Marcos helped them out of their financial mess. What was ironic was that the takeover by the Lopez family of the Meralco afte rthe EDSA revolt was shrouded in mystery despite President Aquino’s avowed policy of full disclosure and transparency.”

    1. i’ll get that book. also saw other books by the same author.

      “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
      ― Augustine of Hippo

      1. If issues like these interest you, Dr. Erick A. San Juan’s “The Marcos Legacy Revisted – Raiders of the Lost Gold”, published in 1998 in Makati City, Philippines, perhaps, will interest you more.

        https://www.amazon.com/Marcos-Legacy-Revisited-Raiders-Lost/dp/1535065389

        This Q & A is with Erick A. San Juan a prominent civic leader, political activist (anti-Communist advocate), author, journalist & weekly contributor to newspapers & Philippine radio.

        “Q. From your direct knowledge, what events or conversations with certain personalities indicated foreign complicity in the EDSA Revolution and its connection to the Marcos gold? Who were the gainers and why?

        “A. During the latter stages of the Marcos regime, I came to be friends with James Brandon Foley* [Note: I am constrained to break my pledge to preserve the anonymity of my sources because without any attribution to an authoritative source, this revelation will be nothing but hearsay. My apologies. I sincerely hope he will understand, given the situation I am in and the position I have taken.] a political officer (another term for CIA agents at that time) of the U.S. Embassy. We used to go out and date several women, sometimes to discos, and the like. Our favorite hang-out was the Hyatt Regency. In between socials, Jim and I would engage in frequent brain-storming at his private apartment at the Seafront. On one particular night, he disclosed to me that there was a secret operation plan to oust Marcos, and that men like Jose Concepcion of RFM and the Ayalas were being used as conduits to access the smooth flow of funds to finally bring an end to the Marcos authoritarian government.

        “Jim likewise mentioned the involvement of Cardinal Jaime Sin, whose role was to draw a large crowd of supporters and sympathizers in the event that a blocking force was needed. Sin is an expert in the Antonio Gramsci-type of Marxism. This was confirmed by Dr. John Coleman in his expose ‘The Violation of the Christian Church,’ where he stated that Sin’s Radio Veritas ‘speaks out Communist propaganda in 13 languages all throughout Asia,’ using Liberation Theology to destroy the moral fiber of the large number of Catholics. Sin believes in the Marxist principle that ‘Religion is the opium of the masses.’ He exploited this tactic to the hilt and succeeded in what is now called ‘people power’ mass action. As acknowledged by Coleman, ‘Cardinal Sin of the Philippines worked diligently to overthrow the government of President Marcos. He was ably assisted by a former executive of the World Council of Churches, Jovito Salonga. Salonga was brought back to the Philippines under escort of the U.S. State Department.’ (CDC Report, October 1988)

        “In Coleman’s estimation, Salonga was to take Mrs. Aquino and this Protestant ‘will cut a deal with the Marxist New People’s Army (NPA).’ Although this did not materialize because of Salonga’s poor health, Coleman was still partly correct. Another fellow Protestant filled in his shoes (Fidel V. Ramos) and has quite successfully negotiated peace with the Communists!”

        Read the rest in here:

        https://rightperspectiveblog.wordpress.com/author/rightperspectiveblog/

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