After insisting that he is Filipino, ABS-CBN executive Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III admitted he is also a US citizen and confirmed that all incorporation papers of the network indicated his local descent. STAR/File
After insisting that he is Filipino, Lopez admitted he is also a US citizen and confirmed that all incorporation papers of the network indicated his local descent.
The former chairman of the country’s largest television network made the confirmation to Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who asked him whether he acquired properties in the US between 1952 to 1986.
“Pilipino po,” the 68-year-old TV executive said during an inquiry conducted online through the Zoom app by a joint committee of the House of Representatives that deliberated on the alleged violations the network committed on its legislative franchise.
Lopez made the remark in reply to Barzaga, chairman of the House committee on natural resources, who was inquiring into what citizenship Lopez stated in “ABS-CBN’s incorporation papers from 1986 to 2000.”
Lopez also said he voted in the 2016 US elections, wherein Donald Trump emerged victorious.
He said he returned to Manila in July 1986 and applied for a Philippine passport in 2000.
Lopez and his counsel Mario Bautista, who also appeared at the online inquiry, clarified that his foreign citizenship doesn’t necessarily mean he is no longer a Filipino, especially since he never renounced his Philippine citizenship prior to his application for a local passport in 2000.
Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, who opposed the granting of another 25-year franchise for the broadcasting giant, said it was not a problem if Lopez carries two citizenships, but the problem lies with the 1987 Constitution.
“The Constitution provides that ownership of companies here is only limited to Filipinos. It could not have been a problem if Mr. Lopez is only a Filipino, but he is also an American. We will have a lot of problems processing that issue,” Marcoleta said.
“We should not forget that the issue here is the Constitution. There is no argument that Mr. Lopez is both a US citizen and a Filipino. The problem lies only in the fact that ABS-CBN should not be managed by an American,” he added.
Bautista, who conceded to the House panel that he is “not an immigration expert,” said there is “no distinction” in the fundamental law of the land, citing as basis some legal jurisprudence that when the law is clear, it shouldn’t be subjected to interpretations.
“He is a dual citizen,” Bautista said, adding Lopez was born in Boston in April 1952, making him an American citizen, to Filipino parents – Eugenio “Geny” Jr. and Conchita Lao – which makes him also a Filipino.
Marcoleta showed a copy of the alien fingerprint card that Lopez used, which categorically shows the ABS-CBN executive is a foreign passport holder.
Marcoleta said the alien fingerprint card shows that Lopez is an “alien,” who filled out the biometrics form and affixed his thumbmark. Paolo Romero
Delon Porcalla -The Philippine Star
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