Business

Like Mighty Tobacco’s forced sale: Cayetano, Congress still pressuring Lopezes to sell ABS-CBN after killing franchise

Blocking ABS-CBN Corp. from going back on air is apparently not the end goal of Speaker Alan Cayetano and his allies in Congress when they rejected its franchise renewal.

The ultimate target, apparently, is for the Lopezes to sell the country’s largest media company to a preferred buyer, just like what
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez did when he forced bilyonaryo Wong Chu King to divest from no. 2 cigarette maker Mighty Corp. to Japan Tobacco International in September 2017.

Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte bared Congress’ true intentions in an interview with ANC wherein he reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s advice for the Lopezes to just sell one of their crown jewels.

“Bottomline, my suggestion to the Lopez family, they just sell the corporation. If they really love the 11,000 employees or more and they really want to serve the Filipino people, ibenta na lang iyong kumpanya,” said Villafuerte.

“Ako, I will support the renewal under new management. I’m sure, if they sell it, big companies [which will buy it] can provide the capital to run it, the manpower, financial, economic, technical
expertise to run the company,” added Villafuerte who was among the 70
who crushed ABS-CBN’s bid to return on air.

Villafuerte then said he was sure that under new owners, all of the
employees would be safe from losing their jobs.

He does not see anything wrong in compelling Lopezes to sell
noting that this was done in Mighty’s case where it was forced to divest from the business for P25 billion under the threat of facing a massive tax evasion case.

Mighty had bilyonaryo Lucio Co
as a buyer but government had insisted on Japan Tobacco, a former partner of Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco, as the buyer.

“Nagbayad, binenta, walang problema, walang natanggal,” Villafuerte said.

Cayetano advised the Lopezes to let go of their ABS-CBN ownership.

“Sabi naman ni Presidente, ibenta nyo, no problem, yung Mighty naman
ibinenta, tuloy-tuloy naman. Hindi naman galit ang Presidente sa ABS itself, dun sa pag-abuso sa sistema,” said Cayetano.

Villafuerte has also proposed a government takeover of the frequency and transmission facilities of ABS-CBN for use in the proposed alternative learning program during the pandemic.

He promised to compensate the Lopezes for the use of their facilities.

Wong Chu King made to choose between prison and sell-out to Japan Tobacco – report

Duterte’s men put the squeeze on Wongchuking to force sale of Mighty to Japan Tobacco – report

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