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Knight in shining yellow armor? Find out who’s the bizman eyeing ABS-CBN’s frequencies

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A businessman close to known opposition figures reportedly wants to take over the highly coveted radio and television frequencies of ABS-CBN after Congress denied the network’s franchise application.

Sources of Bilyonaryo, Politiko’s sister site, said Mel Velarde has filed an application through his publicly listed firm, NOW Corp., for the 630 AM and 101.9 FM frequencies previously assigned to ABS-CBN.

He is also expected to bid for Channels 2 and 23, where the Kapamilya network used to air its shows.

During the Aquino administration, Velarde was often seen in public events with then-Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.

One of the things that linked the three men together was Velarde’s purchase of a copy of the 1734 Murillo Velarde map of the Philippines, considered the “mother” of all Philippine maps.

The map, which Velarde purchased at an auction for P12 million, has been cited by Carpio, Del Rosario and other government officials in asserting the Philippines’ maritime rights in the South China Sea.

In 2015, Velarde’s Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication sponsored a lecture by Carpio on the South China Sea in Manila.

Velarde’s ties to the so-called “Yellows” remained strong even during the Duterte administration. In 2017, he gifted Vice President Leni Robredo with a replica of the 1734 Murillo Velarde Map.

Aside from being a business move, Velarde’s motive for snapping up ABS-CBN’s frequencies could partly be fueled by his wish to settle a score with ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, who forced him into retirement in the 1990s.

Velarde was the founder and general manager of Sky Cable from 1990 to 1997. His departure from ABS-CBN led to an acrimonious court battle, where the businessman demanded over P100 million in retirement benefits and unpaid salaries from Lopez.

The Supreme Court in 2004 junked Velarde’s suit against his former boss.

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