A lawmaker asked ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez III on Monday to recite the first line of “Panatang Makabayan” during the House Representatives hearing on the network’s franchise renewal.
Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta questioned Lopez’s allegiance and citizenship during his interpellation.
“Pwede ba naming hilingin sa inyo na i-recite ninyo yung unang linya ng Panatang Makabayan?” Marcoleta asked Lopez.
(Can we ask you to recite the first line of “Panatang Makabayan?”)
When Lopez responded with a long pause, Marcoleta then asked Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate: “Baka gusto niyo nang matulungan [si Mr. Lopez].” (Maybe you could help Mr. Lopez.)
Lopez was then heard saying: “Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas,” which the second sentence in the first line of “Panatang Makabayan.”
Zarate did not like Marcoleta’s side comment and asked the secretariat to remove the latter’s side comment.
Marcoleta protested Zarate’s request saying he just asked him if he wants to help.
“I am not the one under interpellation,” Zarate said.
Gabby Lopez asked to recite Panatang Makabayan
House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado suspended the hearing when the exchange was already heating up.
House Minority Leader Benny Abante told his fellow representatives who are also lawyers to ask such questions in court.
“If this is a committee hearing where members of the committees are not even lawyers. We would like to request na yung mga abogado natin sabihin na lang sa korte yang mga yan. I don’t think it’s proper. Being a layman, this is a committee hearing, not a court,” he said.
Marcoleta meanwhile pointed out for the record, Lopez was coached by his counsel when he recited “Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas.”
“Noong tinanong ko ang unang linya ng Panatang Makabayan, ni-coach ng abogado ni Mr. Lopez yung ‘Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas.’ Yung abogado ang nagbulong sa kanya,” he said.
(When I asked him for the first line of Panatang Makabayan, Mr. Lopez’s lawyer coached him to say ‘Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas.’ His attorney coached him.)
Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III insisted earlier that he is “a natural-born Filipino” since his parents are both Filipinos and Filipino citizens.
Congress is tackling the issue of citizenship of Lopez since the Philippine constitution mandates that only a 100% Filipino could own and manage media networks like ABS-CBN.