MANILA - ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III is "inevitably qualified" to own and manage a mass media company since there is no distinction between Filipinos and dual citizens under Philippine laws, a lawmaker said Monday.
The concept of dual citizenship has been in existence when the 1935, 1973 and the 1987 constitutions were drafted and ratified, Albay, 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a hearing on ABS-CBN Franchise.
"It is axiomatic that the law and the Constitution does not distinguish, no distinction is allowed," Lagman said.
"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," he said.
The two types of dual citizens, upon birth and upon reacquisition, are both entitled to the benefits accorded by law such as the right to vote, land ownership, and ownership of certain industries, Justice Assistant Secretary Secretary Nicholas Ty told the hearing.
"It would appear that no distinction is made between Filipinos who are dual citizens upon birth and Filipinos who are dual citizens by virtue of application RA 9225," Ty said.
R 9225, also known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003," deals with Philippine citizenships and how it is acquired or reacquired.
"It would appear that the benefits accorded to dual citizens by virtue of RA 9225 are likewise accorded to dual citizens by birth," he added.
Lopez' citizenship is one of the alleged violations of ABS-CBN franchise cited by Solicitor General Jose Calida in his petition with the Supreme Court.
ABS-CBN earlier clarified that Lopez is a Filipino citizen, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission have affirmed. The DOJ earlier confirmed that Lopez, who was born in the United States in 1952 to Filipino parents, is a Filipino by birth and also an American citizen.