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Letters prove Marcos didn't sequester Meralco from Lopezes

MANILA, Philippines - The late Eugenio Lopez Sr had written three letters to former President Ferdinand Marcos offering the sale of their shares in the Manila Electric Company during the Martial Law years. The letters, which were included in the book "Let the Marcos Truth Prevail" that was published by the Marcoses, would belie claims the Marcos administration sequestered Meralco from the Lopez family. In GMA's Saksi, Maki Pulido reported that in the first letter, dated February 1973, Lopez Sr informed the late dictator of their plans to sell their Meralco share to Meralco foundation, which was composed of Meralco's employees and customers. An excerpt of the said letter read: "... would like to offer sale of our holdings to a cooperative composed of Meralco employees, customers and the general public that could be organized with the assistance of the government." In the second letter, Lopez Sr reportedly proposed a financial scheme that will transfer to the Foundation the more than P100 million debt incurred by the Lopezes from banks. Part of the second letter read: "It is proposed that the Foundation's note to the banks be predicated on amortization over a period of 8 years beginning with the third year following consumation of the sale..." The third letter reportedly contained Lopez Sr's detailed account of the sale as well as his request for assistance from Marcos. An excerpt of the letter read: "I hope Mr President, that you could spare some time from your more pressing duties of State to help us and to give this proposal your sympathetic consideration." The sale of Meralco's share by the Lopezes pushed through in 1978 at the price of more than P800 million. However, when Marcoses were driven out of Malacañang as a result of the People Power Revolution in 1986, the Lopezes were able to regain their shares without paying a single centavo. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was then Defense minister, expressed incredulity at this turn of events involving the country's largest power distributor. "I thought it would've been better if they allowed the Sandiganbayan to decide the issue of whether this (Meralco) is ill-gotten weath or not," he said. For his part, Sen. Joker Arroyo, who was executive secretary during the Aquino administration, admitted that Meralco was returned to the Lopezes without formal written documents because it was a sequestered asset. But according to Sen. Benigno Aquino III, son of former President Corazon Aquino, it was the Supreme Court that ruled in 1991 to return to the Lopezes their Meralco shares that were not paid by Meralco Foundation. He also urged Enrile to bring the issue to the courts if he has questions about it. "He (Enrile) is a member of the government and if he feels that my mother did something wrong, then the courts are open," he said. GMA's news team tried to get the Lopez family's comment but the family refused to issue one. In an open letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, however, Oscar Lopez, chairman of First Holdings Corporation, claimed that Eugenio Lopez Sr was forced to sell their Meralco shares due to pressure from the Marcos family. "Given the Martial Law situation and the fact that the son of Lopez Sr, Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr, was at the time rotting in jail, can there be any doubt that it is a transaction done under duress?" the letter said. - GMANews.TV