By Genshen L. Espedido, Reporter
TWO panels at the House of Representatives are calling on ABS-CBN Corp.’s Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Gabriel L. Lopez III to attend the next hearings on the franchise renewal of the media network.
“I saw the agenda and I think we will discuss the issue of citizenship. I think there are questions that are personal to him. I would not know how to deal with this, Mr. Chair, if he is not present,” Deputy Speaker Rodante D. Marcoleta said during the joint hearing of the House committees on legislative franchises, and good government and public accountability on Monday.
After Mr. Marcoleta’s manifestation, Palawan Rep. and House committee on legislative franchises chair Franz E. Alvarez ordered the secretariat to send an invitation to Mr. Lopez. The two committees will convene again on Wednesday morning to resume their deliberations on the network’s franchise.
ABS-CBN Chief Executive Officer Carlo Joaquin Tadeo L. Katigbak said that Mr. Lopez is a natural born Filipino citizen given that his parents are both Filipinos.
“Totoo po na may US passport si Mr. Lopez. Ito ay dahil ipinanganak siya sa America, at sa batas ng America, kahit hindi Amerikano ang magulang mo, kapag ipinanganak ka sa US, automatic po na may hawak ka rin na American citizenship,” he said during the joint hearing.
(It’s true Mr. Lopez has a US passport. This is because he was born in America, and under its laws, even if your parents are not American, if you’re born in the US, you automatically hold American citizenship.)
“The fact that he holds a US passport does not negate in any way his Filipino citizenship from birth,” Mr. Katigbak added.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said he was not at “loggerheads” with Congress on the issue of the media network’s franchise.
“I only cautioned the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) of its possible encroachment on the legislative power in issuing a provisional authority without a law authorizing such action. I never mentioned the name of Speaker (Alan Peter S.) Cayetano and any congressman in my advisory letter to the NTC or in any of my subsequent press releases,” he said.
The two House panels called on Mr. Calida last week to join the hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise, noting that they would “resort to compulsory processes” if he failed to join the succeeding meetings.
During the hearing of the House committee on legislative franchises on March 10, the NTC told lawmakers that it would issue a provisional authority allowing ABS-CBN to operate while Congress hears its franchise renewal.
On May 5, the commission issued a cease-and-desist order against the media network instead, forcing ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations.