Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. is not the only head of mission who holds key positions in major corporations in the Philippines.
The Manila Times found out on Friday that Ambassador to Tokyo Manuel M. Lopez is a director of the board of ABS-CBN, chairman and chief executive officer of the Lopez Holdings Corp. and vice chairman of First Philippines Holdings Corporation (FPHC).
The Lopez Holdings Corp. is the Lopez Group’s flagship for investments. Its main assets are the FPHC and ABS-CBN Corp.
According to the profile posted on Lopez Holding’s website, the envoy is also chairman of the board of Rockwell Land and Bayan and a director of Meralco. Lopez is also a director in the board of Indra Philippines Inc., Sky Cable Corporation and First Philippine Realty Corporation.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd appointed Lopez ambassador in 2010. His appointment stirred controversy after ABS-CBN was highly criticized for its supposed pro-Aquino stance during the last presidential election.
The controversy grew after the President named Manuel Quezon 3rd and Ricky Carandang, former ANC broadcasters, as members of his communications group. ANC is the news channel of ABS-CBN.
Earlier this week, former Ambassador and The Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao questioned Cuisia’s retention of memberships on the boards of PhilamLife, Phinma, The Covenant Car Company (Chevrolet) and SM Prime Holdings.
Tiglao said the ambassador religiously attended board meetings. According to Phinma’s and SM Prime’s 2012 annual reports, Cuisia attended six of SM Prime’s meetings and five of Phinma’s.
An ambassador, Tiglao said, couldn’t leave his post that number of times in a year since it will divert his attention from his diplomatic duties.
The same can be said of Lopez, who attended eight of ABS-CBN’s board meetings last year. This information was sourced from the company’s corporate governance report.
In 2011, the ambassador was present in only two of the 11 ABS-CBN board meetings.
Lopez, however, did not attend the network’s annual stockholders’ meetings in 2011 and 2012.
For FPHC, the ambassador attended four out of the 11 regular board meetings in 2011, as well as that year’s annual stockholders’ meeting.
Lopez was present at the regular board meetings on March 3, May 5, May 30 and December 1. The annual stockholders’ meeting was also held on May 30.
In Lopez Holdings, where he is chairman, Lopez attended 10 out of 11 board meetings: on January 18, February 28, March 29, June 11, June 19, July 12, August 2, September 17, October 11 and December 13 last year.
As of February 28, Lopez is among the ABS-CBN’s top 20 stockholders, owning 146,186 shares, or equal to 0.02 percent.
But Lopez Inc., whose chairmanship the ambassador holds, owns 446,231,607 shares in ABS-CBN or 57.24 percent. Out of this, Lopez owns 25,288,897 shares.
Aside from these, Lopez’s posting may be violating Section 23 of the Foreign Service Act of 1991, which orders the mandatory retirement of officers and employees of the department who reach the age of 65.
Lopez is about 71 years old.
Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said earlier that political appointees can serve beyond the age of 70.