During the Senate hearing on Monday, February 24, ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak clarified that Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” La’O López III holds a Philippine passport, proving he is a Filipino citizen.
This was after Senator Ronald Dela Rosa asked for a clarification on the matter as a local site started spreading rumors online about Lopez’s alleged US citizenship which would put ABS-CBN in peril since the Philippine Constitution does not allow foreigners to own media companies in the country.
Based on the report, the ABS-CBN chair emeritus has been traveling the world with a US passport, which is a serious violation of the Constitution.
More so, other articles claim that Lopez, who has been the media network’s chairperson since 1987 acquired Philippine citizenship only in 2004, a year after the Republic Act No. 9225 or the Dual Citizenship Act took effect in the country making it a violation in the constitutional provision that keeps the ownership and management of mass media to Filipinos.
Addressing the issue, Katigbak said, “Gabby Lopez is a Filipino citizen. Tatay niya po is a Filipino at may hawak din po siyang Philippine passport.”
Nonetheless, ABS-CBN’s general counsel Atty. Mario Bautista said the media company will provide officials the necessary documents proving Lopez’s Filipino citizenship and that ABS-CBN has not violated any law.
Reports started circulating when Deputy Administrator V of Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) Mocha Uson and Thinking Pinoy shared it on their social media accounts.
While Uson is a known supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, Rey Joseph “RJ” P. Nieto, the person behind “Thinking Pinoy” blog site is a Filipino blogger who tackles a wide array of subject and has allegedly posted fake news and misinformation multiple times already. Uson is also known as the fake news queen.
ABS-CBN’s supposed violations specifically in the foreign ownership and operational procedures surfaced after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition seeking for the network’s current franchise to be voided.
Meanwhile, the embattled media network has repeatedly disproved and denied the allegations and clarified that it did not violate any law. However, the network also apologized for their shortcomings, most especially to the President for failing to air his presidential campaign ads during the Presidential Election in 2016.