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Going for gold! Bizman close to Duterte, Robredo eyeing ABS-CBN’s frequencies

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A businessman with ties to both President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo 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.

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

Bilyonaryo’s sources said Velarde is banking on his ties to Duterte’s family to scoop up ABS-CBN’s frequencies. He is a godfather to one of Sara Duterte’s children with husband Manases Carpio.

Carpio’s father, Lucas Jr., is the brother of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and a cousin of retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Interestingly, Velarde is also friends with Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he gifted with a replica of the 1734 Murillo Velarde Map, one of the oldest Philippine maps in the world.

Bilyonaryo said Velarde’s desire to acquire ABS-CBN’s frequencies is partly 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.

Acquiring ABS-CBN’s frequencies will be a feat for Velarde, whose company, NOW Corp. is gunning to compete with other telcos in offering 5G.

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