ABS-CBN accuser Marcoleta asks Gabby Lopez to recite ‘Panatang Makabayan’

Mara Cepeda
ABS-CBN accuser Marcoleta asks Gabby Lopez to recite ‘Panatang Makabayan’


Netizens are having none of 1-SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta's antics, calling him a 'joke' for his treatment of the ABS-CBN chairman emeritus

Is Filipino citizenship now determined by the ability to recite the Panatang Makabayan or the Patriotic Oath of the Philippines?

That seems to be what House Deputy Speaker and 1-SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta was trying to prove when he asked ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez to recite the first line of the patriotic oath. He was desperately trying to disprove that Lopez is Filipino – despite previous explanations that he is a dual citizen – Filipino (on account of his parents) and American (on acocunt of his place of birth).

Ganito na lamang po para matapos tayo sa issue ng allegiance…Mawalang-galang na po, Mr Lopez, puwede ba naming hilingin sa inyo na i-recite ninyo ‘yong unang linya ng Panatang Makabayan?” Marcoleta said as the House resumed its joint hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise application on Monday, June 8. 

(Let’s just do this so we’ll be done with the issue of allegiance… With all due respect, Mr Lopez, can we ask you to recite the first line of the patriotic oath?)

Lopez, who joined the meeting via Zoom, was then seen scratching his head as he talked to someone off-screen, presumably one of his lawyers. 

“Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas (I love the Philippines),” Lopez said. 

Just before Lopez answered, Marcoleta even quipped that perhaps Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate – who had filed a bill that would renew ABS-CBN’s now expired franchise – should help Lopez. 

“I am not the one under interpellation,” said Zarate, who later moved to strike off Marcoleta’s remarks in the House records. 

Marcoleta was not done, manifesting that Lopez’s lawyer had coached him when he recited the Panatang Makabayan’s first line. 

But Twitter users were having none of Marcoleta’s antics, calling the congressman a “joke.”


Another Twitter user said following Marcoleta’s logic, then lawmakers should be asked if they know the 1987 Constitution’s preamble by heart.

The 1-SAGIP representative has long been out to stop Congress from granting a franchise to ABS-CBN, including supposedly being foreign-owned because Lopez is an American. Marcoleta 
had even used the viral “Bawal Lumabas” video of Kapamilya star Kim Chiu to hurl his accusations against the network during the May 26 joint House hearing. 

But as a dual citizen, the ABS-CBN chair emeritus is entitled to his rights both as a Filipino and American.

Lopez was born in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States to Filipino parents in 1952 – back when the 1935 Constitution was still in effect – making him automatically a natural born Filipino and an American citizen or a dual citizen of both countries. (READ: [EXPLAINER] Manila Times ‘exposé’ grossly false about Gabby Lopez’s citizenship)

The case of the birth certificate 

Marcoleta also tried to make a case of Lopez supposedly not being a Filipino because he did not have a birth certificate when he had petitioned for the recognition of his Filipino citizenship in 2000. 

Lopez was issued the certificate of recognition as a Filipino citizen in 2002.

“Kung ako po kasi ang commissioner ng immigration no’ng kayo ay nag-apply, una ko pong kukunin sa inyo ay birth certificate ninyo. Wala pong katumbas na halaga ‘yon, Mr Lopez (If I were the commissioner of immigration when you had applied, the first time I would have asked for is your birth certificate. That’s invaluable, Mr Lopez). A birth certficate is conclusive upon all your claims to citizenship,” Marcoleta said.

But here’s the thing: Lopez had applied for the recognition of his Filipino citizenship precisely because he had no birth certificate in the first place. 

“Tungkol po doon sa birth certificate na hindi ho naisubmit sa application for recognition ni Mr Lopez, ang rason po niyan ay ang recognition ay procedure para ho doon sa mga walang birth certificate,” said Lopez’s lawyer Miguel Damaso. 

(Regarding the birth certificate that Mr Lopez was not able to submit in his application for recognition, the reason for that is, recognition is precisely a procedure for those without birth certificates.)

“Dahil kung mayroong birth certificate ho si Mr Lopez, hindi na ho kakailanganin ang recognition at ‘yon lang ho ang isa-submit niya sa [Department of] Foreign Affairs at mabibigyan na ho siya ng passport,” he added. (Because if Mr Lopez already had a birth certificate, then he wouldn’t need that recognition and he would already have submitted that to the Department of Foreign Affairs to get a passport)

Lopez already said in a previous House hearing that hnever renounced his Filipino citizenship nor took the US pledge of allegiance, though he did vote during the 2016 presidential elections there. 

The Department of Justice even asserted that Lopez is a Filipino citizen since birth. 

Targeting ABS reporter, too

As if that were not enough, Marcoleta later zeroed in on ABS-CBN reporter Mike Navallo, who used public records from the House to write a story on the congressman previously filing a bill allowing dual citizens to run for public office and another measure seeking to grant franchises to companies that had secured their first franchises more than 50 years ago.

He erroneously claimed that ABS-CBN supposedly violated the Constitution’s 50-year limit on franchises.

Marcoleta said he and Navallo agreed to do a Zoom interview the morning after the reporter reached out to him, but the lawmaker wanted other networks to join as well. Navallo’s report was aired on TV Patrol that same night.

“‘Yong ginawa po no’ng reporter na ‘yon na banatan po ako sa kabila ng pagsang-ayon na ‘yan [na] kami ay mag-zu-Zoom kinabukasan, hindi po ugaling Pilipino ‘yon,” he said. 

(What this reporter did, to attack me despite our agreement to hold a Zoom interview the next day, that’s un-Filipino.)

Repetitive and selective? A double whammy for Marcoleta. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.