Senator Ronald Dela Rosa asked the top officials of ABS-CBN if they’re aware of the real citizenship of their boss Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III.
During the senate hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise, Dela Rosa mentioned an article wrote by the Manila Times columnist Rigoberto D. Tiglao claiming that Lopez is an U.s citizen who’s still traveling using his American passport.
“Amerikano ba siya o Pilipino?” Dela Rosa asked the ABS-CBN executives.
As a response, ABS-CBN chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak said that Lopez is a Filipino citizen.
“Sa pagkaka alam ko po, Gabby Lopez is a Filipino citizen yung tatay niya po ay Pilipino at may hawak din po siyang Philippine passport,” Katigbak said.
Dela Rosa questioned how a U.S citizen like Lopez led a television network despite the foreign ownership restriction of mass media.
“Sabi dito sa article na to, Gabby Lopez has been with the company since 1987 at naging Pilipino lang siya during the application of naturalization law noong 2004, so ibig sabihin eighteen years siyang nagba-violate ng batas ang ABS-CBN kung before the naturalization law took effect siya ay U.S citizen,” Dela Rosa said.
Senator Drilon who wrote the dual citizenship act of 2003 explained to the committee that the purpose of the said law.
“The purpose was to revert to Filipino citizenship all those who lost their Filipino citizenship because of the 1932 law, therefore in effect, you are reverting to your Filipino citizenship from birth once you reacquire Filipino citizenship. In effect, retroactive,” Drilon said.
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN General Counsel Atty. Mario Bautista said that they’re going to send documents that would prove that Lopez is a Filipino citizen.
When Dela Rosa asked Drilon if the days when Lopez led the network while being a U.S citizen was disregarded, the Senator from Iloilo said that “you are never presumed to have lost your PH citizenship”.
According to Tiglao’s sources, Lopez was advised by his lawyers to acquire Philippine citizenship to avoid violating the constitutional ban on foreigners in media.
“While it isn’t clear whether the ban on foreigners in media applies to a dual citizen, it is incontrovertible that ABS-CBN violated the Constitution for 18 years, from 1986 to 2004, when Lopez was in its top management and one of its six biggest individual stockholders yet had solely US citizenship,” Tiglao wrote.