Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, ABS-CBN chairman emeritus, insisted Wednesday that he is “a natural-born Filipino” since his parents are both Filipinos and Filipino citizens.
Lopez explained during the House joint panel hearing on his network’s franchise renewal that he applied for Filipino citizenship recognition in 2001 since he was born in the United States and not in the Philippines.
“My understanding from my lawyer was that I am a natural-born Filipino citizen because both my parents are Filipino citizens,” he said.
“But because I was not born in the Philippines, I did not have a Filipino birth certificate. So it behooves me to have a recognition by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration for whatever legal purposes I may use of that recognition,” Lopez added.
Gabby Lopez further explained that he was just born in the US, but he grew up in the Philippines. He finished his elementary and secondary education here before he went back to the US for his college education when he was 19 years old. He also completed his master’s degree in Boston, USA, but has never given his oath of allegiance to the US.
Ayo Bautista, Lopez’s legal counsel, said the ABS-CBN owner is a dual citizen since he is born a Filipino citizen by Filipino parents, but was born in the US, granting the legal principle of jus soli. It is when the citizenship of a person is determined by the place where he or she was born.
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“‘Yung dual citizenship po ni Mr. Gabby Lopez ay automatic legal consequence dahil pinanganak siya mula sa mga Pilipino. Ipinanganak din siya na sa America, na alam natin na kapag ikaw ay pinanganak sa teritoryo ng America, ikaw ay American citizen,” he said during the hearing.
(The dual citizenship of Mr. Gabby Lopez is an automatic legal consequence because he was born of Filipino parents. He was also born in America, we know that if you are born in American territory, you are an American citizen.)
Congress is tackling the issue of citizenship of Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III since the Philippine constitution mandates that only a 100% Filipino could own and manage media networks like ABS-CBN.