Private properties protected by Charter, says Sotto, amid plan to take over ABS assets

Published July 23, 2020, 11:39 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Amid the alleged plan to take over the ABS-CBN compound and assets, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday reminded his colleagues in Congress that private properties are protected by the Constitution.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Take over ABS-CBN property? Private property is constitutionally protected. Possession is given weight. There is a venue, the courts; and there is due process,” Sotto said on Twitter.

A plan to seize the broadcast company’s 44,000-square meter compound on Mother Ignacia St., Quezon City was discussed by Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael “Mike” Defensor, Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla, and other congressmen in a recent online meeting. They denied the network’s bid for a fresh, 25-year franchise last July 10.

The congressmen pushed for the government takeover of ABS-CBN assets, as well as stopping the operation of its subsidiary SkyCable. They also suggested the imposition of a nearly P2-trillion fine on the network for its alleged franchise violations.

Marcoleta said the proposals will be tackled in their hearings later.

Sotto, however, admitted that while Congress “can dip its fingers into anything,” he, too, cannot yet determine the kind of legislation that would particularly authorize the government to do such. He earlier said he has “no idea on where (the plans are) coming from and why.”

“I also wonder what legislation can cover question of property ownership. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the courts would be sufficient venue,” the Senate chief said.

Nevertheless, Sotto said the Senate may take up any measures forwarded by the House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the congressmen’s takeover plan could be a “violation of the law” as he stressed that the government does not have control over the Lopez-owned properties.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also agreed, calling the move “trespassing and theft.”