CA junks ABS-CBN appeal vs Benedicto estate

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CA junks ABS-CBN appeal vs Benedicto estate
The Court of Appeals says there is no reason to declare RPN-9's occupancy of ABS-CBN's facilities during the martial law era as fraudulent

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corporation again lost in its case against the estate of the late Roberto Benedicto, a crony of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The Court of Appeals (CA) junked ABS-CBN’s appeal and upheld an earlier ruling by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC), which said that the network failed to prove its claims against Benedicto.

ABS-CBN had accused Benedicto of operating RPN-9 using ABS-CBN’s studios and equipment “to justify wrong, protect fraud, defend crime, and defeat public convenience.”

The studios and equipment were leased from 1973 to 1980 through a “fraudulent” agreement signed in June 1973, said the network. It added that there were veiled threats of potential government confiscation.

ABS-CBN was seeking P11.157 million as “reasonable” rental from Benedicto’s estate. It also maintained that it sent a demand letter to RPN-9, contrary to the Manila RTC’s findings.

In its ruling, however, the CA said that RPN-9’s usage of ABS-CBN’s facilities was grounded on Proclamation No. 1081, which declared martial law in the Philippines.

The court said that “with legal basis derived from a pronouncement with the force of law, there is no reason … to declare RPN’s entry, occupancy, and operation of ABS-CBN’s studios, facilities, and equipment as fraudulent, forceful, and illegal.”

The CA added that the rental was formalized in the lease agreement, which ABS-CBN “freely” consented to.

“ABS-CBN therefore cannot, in the same breath, aver that RPN’s actuations in the execution of the lease agreement were fraudulent, or that the contract was more a ‘cover-up ploy’ than real and to insist on enforcing the rental obligation therein.” –

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