Issue of ABS-CBN’s Lopez citizenship tackled in Congress

Speaking to Congress in a virtual hearing, ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III, reiterated that his allegiance is to the Philippines and he is fully Filipino despite being a dual citizen of the Philippines and the United States.

Despite the affirmation from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Mr. Lopez is Filipino citizen, several lawmakers have pressed arguments of his eligibility to own a mass media franchise in the Philippines being a dual citizen.

According to DOJ Assistant Secretary Nicholas Ty, dual citizens by either virtue of birth or reacquisition are eligible to rights such as voting, land ownership, and owning certain businesses. A/Sec. Ty also said that under Republic Act No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, there is no distinction made between Filipinos who are dual citizens upon birth and Filipinos who are dual citizens.

During the virtual session, Rep. Edcel Lagman cited that the concept of dual citizenship has been in existence during the drafting of the 1935, 1973 and the 1987 constitutions. "It is axiomatic that the law and the Constitution does not distinguish, no distinction is allowed," the lawmaker said. Rep. Lagman stated that, "Consequently, a Filipino with dual citizenship like Mr. Gabby Lopez is inevitably qualified to own and manage a mass media corporation like ABS-CBN. Verily, dual citizens are 100 percent Filipinos”.

The argument of Mr. Lopez’ citizenship was among the violations mentioned by Solicitor General Jose Calida on the suspension of the media franchise in the quo warranto filed in the Supreme Court.

During the same hearing, Mr. Lopez was also asked by Rep. Rodante Marcoleta to recite the Panatang Makabayan as his proof of allegiance to the Philippines.

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