ABS-CBN President Carlo Lopez Katigbak on Monday answered persistent allegations that his family illegally took back the TV network after the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Katigbak pointed out that ABS-CBN was seized from the Lopezes at the beginning of Martial Law in 1972 and was returned by the administration of President Corazon Aquino through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

“Ang pagbabalik ng ABS-CBN sa pamilyang Lopez ay naaayon sa batas at may basbas ng tatlong ahensiya ng gobyerno: ang PCGG, ang Office of the President, at ang Korte Suprema. `Yan po ang aming katotohanan,” he told lawmakers during a public hearing on bills seeking to grant a franchise to the country’s largest media network.

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Katigbak’s presentation cited a June 8, 1973 lease agreement for ABS-CBN equipment with Marcos-controlled Kanlaon Broadcasting. State-owned People’s Television continued to use the ABS-CBN facilities after the EDSA revolution, he said.

The Lopezes wrote the Aquino government on April 17 1986 seeking the return of ABS-CBN. The network was returned by the PCGG on June 18, 1986. PTV agreed to return ABS-CBN facilities on Jan. 22, 1992, after an arbitration deal was approved by the Supreme Court.

The ABS-CBN president also denied allegations that ex-chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III was an American citizen and barred from being part of the network’s management.

While Lopez was born in the United States in 1952, his parents were both Filipinos, which automatically gave him Filipino citizenship, Katigbak said. This was even if Lopez was also an American citizen by virtue of being born on US spoil, he said.

Katigbak again explained ABS-CBN’s issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), which, according to critics, circumvented the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in mass media.

Holders of PDRs, he said, were not entitled to management of the corporation.

Moreover, the issuance was cleared by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Oct. 4, 1999. Other media companies such as GMA Network later issued PDRs but this was never an issue during their franchise hearings, he noted.

“Paano ka magiging isang may-ari kung hindi ka pwedeng bumoto sa mga bagay na may kinalaman sa pagpapatakbo ng kompanya?” Katigbak said.

On the supposed constitutional ban on broadcast outfits operating beyond 50 years, Katigbak said the 50-year limit applied to each grant or renewal of a franchise, and that there was no limit to the number of franchises that could be granted successively to a company.

“May nagsabi po that ABS-CBN deceived many when we said that we are in the service of the Filipino. I believe that many voices will assert that our service to them has been genuine,” Katigbak said. (PressONE.ph)