Marcoleta sought to allow dual citizens to run for public office without renouncing foreign citizenship

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 09:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2020 12:54 AM

Representative Rodante Marcoleta interpellates during the House of Representatives hearing on the ABS-CBN Franchise on June 03, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - A lawmaker who questioned ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III's citizenship had previously sought to allow dual citizens to run for public office without renouncing foreign citizenship.

Combing through his legislative record, ABS-CBN News found out that Sagip Party-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta was the sole author of House Bill No. 03737, introduced in Sept. 2016 during the 17th Congress, that would have allowed Filipinos with dual citizenship to seek an elective or appointive public office without renouncing their foreign citizenship.

The measure was in response to a requirement under Republic Act No. 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, that requires renunciation of foreign citizenship as a requirement upon the filing of a certificate of candidacy.

In his explanatory note, Marcoleta said: "The conditions set forth in the said paragraphs are surplusage because once a person files the certificate of candidacy, the candidates declare their Filipino citizenship and their support to the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines."

The bill never went past the House Justice committee.

Marcoleta has questioned Lopez's citizenship, initially claiming that Lopez was not Filipino when he became head of ABS-CBN and only petitioned for recognition of his Filipino citizenship in 2000.

ABS-CBN had previously pointed out, supported by the Department of Justice on Wednesday's hearing, that Lopez was born Filipino to Filipino parents, and is a dual citizen because he was born in the United States in 1952.

But because he did not run for any public office, there was no requirement to renounce his American citizenship.

At the resumption of the House hearing on Wednesday, Marcoleta conceded this point but cast doubt whether a dual citizen can own and manage a mass media company.

"Ang pagmamay-ari at pamamahala ng mass media companies ay limitado lang sa mga Pilipino. Walang problema doon kung siya lang ay Pilipino, hindi Amerikano," he said.

Marcoleta also voted in favor of House Bill 78 amending the Public Service Act which would allow 100% foreign ownership in telecoms and other public services. 

House Bill 78 limits the definition of public utilities to distribution of electricity, transmission of electricity, water pipeline distribution, and sewerage pipeline, which means that all other public services are not subject to 60% to 40% Filipino-foreigner ownership ratio.

ABS-CBN News tried to get Marcoleta's side since Tuesday. He said Wednesday he will speak to the media on Thursday.

ABS-CBN, the country's largest media and entertainment company, halted its broadcast operations last May 5, on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission, due to its expired franchise.

Several bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise have been pending at the House of Representatives from as early as 2014.

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