The Lopez family worked to reclaim ownership of ABS-CBN after the 1986 People Power revolt when the Aquino government initially decided not to return the TV network, ABS-CBN’s vice chairman told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Augusto “Jake” Almeda-Lopez, a former ABS-CBN general manager, said former President Corazon Aquino did not hand the TV network back to the Lopezes in a “sweetheart” deal as critics claimed.

“Hindi sinauli sa amin ng Cory government ang istasyon, kami ang nagpahiram sa Cory government,” he told two committees conducting hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise, which lapsed in May.

“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,” he said during Wednesday’s joint hearing.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, however, said ownership of ABS-CBN was never transferred to the government, and was retained by the Lopez family despite a sequestration order.

Enrile, who was Marcos’ defense minister, executed the sequestration order on all television and radio stations in the country during the martial law.

“Hindi tama ‘yung sinabi [niya] na inagaw ni Presidente [Ferdinand] Marcos yung ABS-CBN. It was a part of the national policy to immobilize and control the communications system and the outlets for information in the entire nation, and that is what we did,” he told lawmakers.

ABS-CBN legal counsel Arecio Rendor on June 15 said the Marcos government took possession of the network’s real estate and broadcast equipment, but ownership remained with the Lopezes. The Lopezes said they were not compensated.

Almeda-Lopez appealed to Congress to recognize the network’s contributions to the culture, as well as the jobs of some 11,000 workers.

“We deserve the renewal of our franchise, and that if you don’t renew our franchise you’re going to deprive the public of so much entertainment, news, and more or less the building of culture,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro