A retired Supreme Court justice on Sunday challenged ABS-CBN Corp. Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” Lopez 3rd to renounce his United States citizenship to back up his claim before Congress that he loved the Philippines in thought, in word and in deed.
A retired Supreme Court justice on Sunday challenged ABS-CBN Corp. Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” Lopez 3rd to renounce his United States citizenship to back up his claim before Congress that he loved the Philippines in thought, in word and in deed. Retired justice Noel Tijam hurled the challenge at Lopez in a 26-page position […]
Retired justice Noel Tijam hurled the challenge at Lopez in a 26-page position paper.
Lopez “should demonstrate that he has no effective ties with the US. The US Constitution requires not only ‘birth on United States soil’ but, more importantly, that the citizen is ‘subject to its jurisdiction,’” Tijam said.
“Proof that he is not subject to US jurisdiction by being far removed from it, politically, culturally, socially, civilly, may support negative allegiance to the US,” he added.
He questioned the loyalty of Lopez after the latter, through certain acts, favored the US over the Philippines.
Tijam, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council representing the academe, argued that the testimony of Lopez that he never lost or renounced his Filipino citizenship should not be taken at face value.
It was argued that it was not enough for Lopez to pay lip service by claiming he loved the Philippines because he also loved America by participating in US elections and presented a US passport during his trips to Europe.
Tijam said the Philippines was a “jealous spouse” who demands “nothing less than full and complete allegiance.”
The citizenship of Lopez is the subject of spirited debate in the House of Representatives, which is tackling measures that seek to grant the network a new franchise.
The Constitution bars foreigners from owning shares in media entities, so the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise cannot be resolved unless the questions surrounding Lopez’s citizenship are cleared.
Tijam insisted that a Filipino with a dual citizenship could not own or manage ABS-CBN.
“The proposition is that Gabby Lopez 3rd, notwithstanding his dual citizenship is entitled to the full rights and obligations as Filipino citizens. The claim is that a dual citizen is 100 percent Filipino. That is, literally, a half-truth for it conveniently cancels the fact that, as a dual citizen, he is likewise 100 percent American,” he said.
He argued that Lopez’s failure to renounce his US citizenship could lead to infidelity and treachery.
“Failure to renounce his US citizenship and to strip itself of foreign participation forecloses the privilege of engaging in a mass media enterprise. The only remedy: issue a Constitutional amendment, to be submitted to the Filipino people on a plebiscite for ratification. This is equivalent of a Constitutional shortcut that should not be encouraged but denounced as infidelity and treachery,” Tijam pointed out.
“If we are willing to cede easily and effortlessly our national sovereignty, economy and patrimony to dual citizens, like Gabby Lopez 3rd, we are likely to open a Pandora’s box. If we recklessly do so, we are obliged to grant equal or similar rights to other permutations of dual citizens. Granting parity or equal rights to dual citizens solely based on the goodness of their heart, their good reputation, and the expected contribution to our national coffers will endear us to the international community but will disenfranchise and disillusion countless Filipinos born and raised in the Philippines from availing and benefiting from the fruits of the motherland,” he said.
“On the other end of the spectrum, dual citizenship and dual allegiance result to diluted civic ties. A dual citizen follows different traditions and immerse in different cultures. The possibility of conflict of interests and attachments is apparent. To brush aside the notion that citizenship would always necessarily and indispensably include allegiance on technicality and perceived vast polarity between them is to permit an “accidental” submission of allegiance by our own citizen to another country, offending the basic tenets of our Constitution,” he added.
Tijam noted that Lopez took 48 years before he applied for Filipino citizenship and more than 50 years before he was issued a Filipino passport.
The retired justice also suggested that ABS-CBN “review the terms of its PDR (Philippine depositary receipt) agreements with its foreign investors, cease from issuing such modify the terms accordingly. The foreign investors should divest themselves of the PDRs in favor of Filipinos. Whether this will cure the violation is another matter but, at least, prospectively, will rid of ABS-CBN of constitutional perplexity.”
By Jomar Canlas, TMT
June 29, 2020