Even as he trumpeted his dismantling of the country’s oligarchs, President Duterte admitted on Tuesday that he will become happier if members of the business community, including his friends, get richer and share their blessings with the less fortunate.
In his unannounced visit to a military camp in Jolo, Sulu on Monday, the President claimed that he was content with his life and wants his friends to become wealthy.
“Iyong kaibigan kong tumutulong, ‘pag yumaman ka nang yumaman, mas maligaya ako (To my friend who is helping, if you get richer, I am happier),” the President said in the edited speech released by the Palace Tuesday.
“Tutal ako, happy na ako sa buhay ko (Besides, I am happy with my life) but I want you to get rich. But we have to talk because there is so much that we can do business,” he added.
The President made the comment about his friends while tackling his plans to open the country’s border to intensify the trading of goods, including the possibility of coal trading in the south. He mentioned that there are other “big time” business opportunities and proposed to talk with the interested groups.
“Maraming mas big time pa na negosyo. Tayo ang mag-usap. Kung yayaman ka diyan, mas maligaya ako. Kaibigan kita eh (There are other possible big-time businesses. Let’s talk. If you get rich, I will be happier. You’re my friend),” he said.
On Wednesday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque rejected speculations that the President’s pronouncement about friends getting rich suggested cronyism under his regime.
“No, I don’t think so. I think he’s referring to the business community in general because many of them are his friends,” Roque said over ANC’s Headstart.
Roque explained that the President merely supports the business community to grow their wealth since it will also benefit the nation.
“He has encouraged them to do more because if they get rich, the country will benefit as well. I think that’s clear from the literal words used by the President,” he said.
“It’s not his intention to make the rich poor. He wants them to get even richer because there will be benefits for everyone if they continue to be rich,” he added.
The President visited government troops in Jolo on Monday to personally guarantee his quest for truth and justice over the shooting of four soldiers by policemen last month. Also present at the closed-door presidential engagement were Senator Christopher Go, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Sulu Governor Sakur Tan.
The President proudly declared that he could die happy after dismantling the country’s oligarchy without declaring martial law. His celebratory comment came just days after ABS-CBN network failed to secure a fresh franchise from Congress to resume operations.
Duterte, in his remarks, alleged that the oligarchs have been milking billions from the government and the people, controlling the country’s economy, and avoiding tax payments. He likewise blasted a few of the elite few for taking advantage of “political power” to influence the elections.
He likewise took a swipe at ABS-CBN network and two Metro Manila concessionaires over alleged abuses during his rant against the oligarchs. These comments, however, were removed by the Palace from the final speech aired on state television Tuesday morning.
The Palace had earlier claimed the President has kept a neutral stance on the franchise issue involving the network. Duterte previously expressed anger towards the Lopez family over an unaired political advertisement on ABS-CBN and unpaid debts to the Development Bank of the Philippines.