ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez said ABS-CBN’s presence in far-flung areas was not borne out of business interests but of public service, when asked what he has done for the country, as the House panel hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise resumed on Monday (June 8).
“When ABS-CBN was taken off the air, over three million Filipinos no longer receive the signal that allowed them to be informed about the issues that beset the country. Those three million Filipinos live in outlying areas, not the rural areas. Those signals, we put in those areas will not generate the kind of income that will allow you as a businessman to have an adequate return,” he said.
Lopez added that ABS-CBN did it because “we believe that Filipinos should be informed. And those Filipinos are affected by the fact that ABS-CBN has been closed.”
Remote areas in the country depend on free-to-air television as their main source of information.
As Typhoon Ambo ravaged the Aurora and Quezon provinces, several reports of residents not knowing of the impending storm surfaced. On his way to Aurora for the typhoon coverage, ABS-CBN reporter Jeff Canoy said that police officers hoped that the network could go back on the air soon because it is the only one that has a strong signal in the area and that cellular data signals are intermittent.
Lopez’s citizenship is one of the issues being tackled at the House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise, where he described it as not an issue because he has always considered himself to be Filipino.
“My being a US citizen is strictly a consequence of my father going to school in America. Why should an accident of nature be a defining issue of whether I’m a Filipino or not? Shouldn’t it be based on my actions and what I have done,” he said.
The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission and the, meanwhile, shared the view that dual citizens are also 100 percent Filipino.
Referring to owning businesses, Justice Assistant Secretary Nicholas Ty said, “From a legal perspective, it appears that there’s no distinction made between pure Filipino and dual citizens when it comes to participation on these activities.”
“Our interpretation of the dual citizenship law has been similar to that of the Department of Justice…a dual citizen is 100 percent Filipino,” SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong said.