ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio Lopez III (EL3) asserted that he is a natural-born Filipino citizen as he addressed questions about his citizenship at the House of Representatives on June 3.
“I am a natural-born Filipino citizen because both my parents are Filipino citizens,” said EL3.
ABS-CBN general counsel Mario Bautista said that EL3 is a dual citizen because he was born to Filipino parents in the United States of America.
“’Yung pagka-dual citizenship po ni Mr. Gabby Lopez ay automatic legal consequence dahil ipinanganak siya mula sa mga Pilipino. Ipinanganak din siya sa America, na alam natin na kapag ikaw ay pinanganak sa teritoryo ng America, ikaw ay American citizen,” he said.
EL3 said he never renounced his Filipino citizenship and only sought recognition of his Filipino citizenship from the Department of Justice to secure a Philippine passport.
Justice Usec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar also affirmed that EL3 is a Filipino citizen by birth and that the certificate of recognition issued to him was not a grant but a confirmation of his Filipino citizenship. She also maintained that EL3 did not lose his Filipino citizenship with his use of a US passport.
"Ang kanyang paggamit ng US passport ay hindi po dahilan para mawala po ang kaniyang Filipino citizenship. At ang hindi naman niya pagkakaroon ng Philippine passport ay hindi rin isang dahilan na hindi siya maging Pilipino,” she said.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that EL3’s American citizenship is a nonissue.
“He is undeniably a natural-born Filipino citizen. No amount of interpellations would change this overriding and unalterable fact,” Lagman said.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a former Bureau of Immigration commissioner, also said: “Mr. Lopez, from the beginning, is a Filipino—no renunciation. And being a Filipino, he can own a part of and participate in the management of mass media in conformity with the Philippine Constitution.”
Stressing his commitment to serving the Filipinos, EL3 said: “I am first and foremost a Filipino, I will live and die in the Philippines. I know in my heart that I am a Filipino. All my actions in the last 35 years I’ve been associated with ABSCBN have been in the service of the Filipino. If it came down to conflict of interest, I will give up my US citizenship in a minute.”