Duterte hits oligarchs anew: Pay up

Published March 18, 2021, 9:37 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte advised the country’s biggest businessmen anew to pay their obligations to the government as he once again took pride in dismantling the “oligarchs.”

President Rodrigo Duterte

In a speech in Tacloban City, Duterte let out an expletive-filled rant against the Lopezes of ABS-CBN, the Ayalas of Manila Water, and Manny Pangilinan of Maynilad, telling them to pay up what they owe the government.

According to the President, as long as he is in Malacañang, he will not allow ABS-CBN to return to free TV on its own capacity if the company’s obligations remain unpaid.

“Sabi ko kay Gabby Lopez, ‘Anong klaseng p***** i**** tao ka?’ Kaya ngayon, magsabi sila ibalik? Na. Habang Presidente ako… Bayaran nila muna ang utang (I told Gabby Lopez, ‘What kind of a f****** person are you?’ Now they want to return. No. As long as I am the president. They should pay their debt first),” he said.

“At saka ‘yong mga si Pangilinan pati si Ayala, bayaran nila ‘yan (Pangilinan and Ayala, too. They should pay up as well),” he added.

President Duterte said dismantling the oligarchs was an achievement he can happily bring to the afterlife.

“If there is one thing that I will bring with me when I die, alam mo ano (you know what it is)? That I was able to dismantle the oligarchs holding the government,” he said.

This was not the first time this month that the President boasted about him going after the country’s most famous businessmen.

In a speech early this month, Duterte said he did not let his fear hold him back from going after oligarchs for their offenses and for allegedly wielding influence over the nation’s political and economic affairs.

In 2019, water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water drew the ire of the President over alleged onerous provisions of the supply agreement. He likewise accused them of violating the country’s anti-graft law for passing income taxes to consumers.

The government later moved to revise the water concession contracts to remove such controversial provisions, advising the two companies to just accept the new agreement.

On the other hand, President Duterte’s beef with ABS-CBN started before his election because of the latter’s supposed failure to air his paid campaign ads. He had always vowed to block the franchise renewal of the network but later on denied his involvement when the network failed to secure a new franchise from Congress last year.

Early this year, Duterte alleged that ABS-CBN has unpaid obligations with the government, noting the controversial disposal of loans with the government-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).