Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

MANILA – Online news publication recently interviewed several members of the House of Representatives about their take on ABS-CBN’s franchise application.

Not only a few lawmakers gave their opinions on the matter but they requested anonymity as they don’t want to be quoted in public prematurely until they are able to raise their questions on the floor.

Here is their personal take on the matter:

One Congressman said the Committee on Franchises may not be able to settle the issue on the American citizenship of Mr. Gabby Lopez in relation to his ownership of shares in Abs Cbn, a mass media company  which is a blatant violation by  ABS-CBN on the Constitutional requirement that mass media must be owned one hundred percent by Filipino citizens.

As it allowed Gabby Lopez, who is an American citizen being born in the United States to own shares at ABS-CBN, the latter violates the Constitutional prohibition that mass media company shall be owned 100% by Filipino citizens.

Lopez’ claims to be a Filipino citizen, but such claim has not been manifested by his acts of practicing as a real Filipino citizen.

In fact, it has been proven that his acts manifestly showed that he is an American on several instances, the same Congressman said., when he used an American passport in his many travels to the United States. He also voted in US elections certainly as an American citizen, the Congressman added.

Indeed, if he has been really a Filipino citizen as he claimed to be,  he should have renounced his American citizenship prior to his acquisition of shares of ABS-CBN.

Renunciation of citizenship to practice acts as pure Filipino is an act required by the Dual citizenship law.  When a person of Dual citizenship performs an act where he is required to be purely a Filipino citizen such as having himself appointed to a government office or running for a public office, that person is expected to be a pure Filipino citizen.

This is to avoid loyalty to two sovereign states.  In fact, that’s what Grace Poe did when she applied as Director of MTRCB. Prior to her assumption to said office, she  renounced her American citizenship as serving a Philippine government office requires sole loyalty to said government.

Although Grace Poe was a dual citizen, both Filipino and American at the same time, she had to renounce the American when an act requires her to be singly a citizen of the Philippines which is  her  appointment to a government office. Such requirement of singly be a citizen of the Philippines is expected of a person who wants to become a stockholder of mass media company,  the latter being required to be owned 100% by Filipino citizens.

For Mr. Gabby Lopez to own a share in the mass media company, he is duty-bound to renounce his other citizenship and stay singly or purely  as Filipino citizen in order to avoid  loyalty to two sovereign states.

That is exactly the rationale why the Constitution imposed on mass media to be 100% Filipino owned. It is the purpose of sole loyalty to a sovereign. And that is exactly what is also required of Gabby Lopez prior to acquiring shares in ABS-CBN, a company that requires 100% Filipino ownership.

Lopez should have renounced his American citizenship prior to coming in as stockholder, CEO, and Director of ABS-CBN.

Ownership of mass media requires a person to be a pure Filipino citizen, not a half-half. But Mr. Lopez retained both American and Filipino citizenship for a long time, resulting to Abs Cbn being owned partly by an American citizen, thus, Abs Cbn  violated the Constitutional requirement to be owned 100% by Filipino citizens..

Another congressman criticizes DOJ Usec Aglipay-Villar

Another Congressman criticized DOJ Undersecretary Aglipay-Villar for giving an unauthorized interview with ABS-CBN where she issued an unauthorized opinion on the Filipino citizenship of Mr. Gabby Lopez. The Congressman said: “Undersecretary Aglipay-Villar should have known better that only the DOJ Secretary can render an opinion, and such opinion shall be done formally in writing and properly sealed by the DOJ seal.

Secondly, the Congressman further said that Undersecretary Aglipay-Villar has no business giving an opinion on a subject matter that she has no expertise of, such issues involving citizenship which are usually resolved by the Supreme Court. Further, it would be unethical for a DOJ official to be giving opinion on issue already being deliberated by the House of Representatives during  a hearing of its Committee on Franchises. Undersecretary AAglipay-Villar’s opinion only muddle the issue especially if such  opinion is favorable to a party being questioned.

It is incumbent upon the DOJ Secretary to check on his people, otherwise, there is no order in his department, the lawmaker said.

Lastly, another Congressman (third) said: “The issue of Gabby Lopez’s Filipino citizenship raises a prejudicial question as to whether or not, the House Committee on Franchises is competent or is able to resolve a highly legal issue which only a court of law can resolve. The issue of citizenship is such a difficult question of law where the Supreme Court often even has a hard time to resolve.

The Congressman believes, that question on Gabby Lopez’s Filipino citizenship must be raised to the High Court and should be resolved with finality, otherwise, that issue will be like a sore thumb and will affect the business of the House of Representatives for a long time. (ia/

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