ABS-CBN Corp.’s Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Gabriel L. Lopez III is “100% Filipino” despite being a dual citizen on account of being born in the United States, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“Our interpretation of the dual citizenship law has been similar to that of the Department of Justice (DoJ). So the interpretation po of RA (Republic Act) 9225 is that a dual citizen is a 100% Filipino. ‘Yan po ‘yung current interpretation namin so we don’t look anymore at this point at the foreign citizenship of the shareholder, officer, or director,” SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong said on Monday during the joint hearing of the House committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability.
RA 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act provides that natural born citizens of the Philippines who become citizens of a foreign country will retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic.
Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said that the Constitution does not distinguish between a Filipino of single citizenship and a Filipino of dual citizenship.
“The Constitution does not distinguish between a Filipino of single citizenship and a Filipino of dual citizenship. It is axiomatic that if the law or the Constitution does not distinguish, no distinction is allowed. Consequently, a Filipino with dual citizenship, like Mr. Gabby Lopez, is indubitably qualified to own and manage a mass media corporation, like ABS-CBN,” he said.
Asked by SAGIP Party-List Rep. Rodante D. Marcoleta if Mr. Lopez has allegiance to the American government, the ABS-CBN official replied: “Wala po (None).”
Mr. Lopez said in the joint House hearing on June 3 that he was willing to give up his American citizenship if it “came down to conflict of interest” regarding his management of the network.
The two panels were tackling Mr. Lopez’s citizenship to aid their decision whether to give a new franchise to ABS-CBN. The 1987 Constitution states that media companies should be 100% Filipino-owned. — Genshen L. Espedido