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Now Reading: OLIGARCH-BUSTING | Duterte was not referring to ABS-CBN owners on his oligarch comment – spokesman
OLIGARCH-BUSTING | Duterte was not referring to ABS-CBN owners on his oligarch comment – spokesman
July 14, 2020 , 02:23 PM

(July 14, 2020) – President Rodrigo Duterte was not alluding to the owners of the country’s largest broadcast network when he boasted he had dismantled the oligarchy without imposing martial law, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Harry Roque was still trying to deflect criticism the popular leader was behind the decision of a congressional committee to reject the franchise renewal of the Lopez-controlled ABS-CBN.

In a regular news briefing, he insisted this was just a coincidence, saying Duterte was actually referring to Lucio Tan of Philippine Airlines, Manny Pangilinan of Maynilad, and the Ayalas of Manila Water.

But these tycoons did not lose any franchise for the utilities companies and airline unlike the owners of ABS-CBN.

In fact, Duterte had settled differences with the three businessmen, saying he would “shut up forever” about Tan’s tax liabilities in 2018 after the business tycoon offered to repatriate workers from Kuwait.

In June, the president said he would also “forget” filing cases against water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water if they accept new government terms and “return money to the people.

Roque said: “Bati na sila ngayon.”

Roque was not in Jolo on Monday when he addressed the troops and boasted he was able to dismantle an oligarchy.

But he stood by his earlier statements that the president had nothing to do with the franchise vote.

“Lahat ng sinasabi niya, kinacapture, iniindex ng opisina,” he said.

“It’s on the basis of his prior contemporaneous statements.”

Roque has repeatedly said Duterte was neutral on the matter of the ABS-CBN franchise, calling it the sole power of Congress as a co-equal government institution.

However, Duterte has been attacking ABS-CBN in his many speeches, emphasizing his opposition to the network’s franchise renewal and has even asked the owners of ABS-CBN to sell the network.

In a speech aired on Tuesday, Duterte told soldiers on a southern island in the Philippines, “I am very happy. Without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy of the Filipino people.”

The populist leader made the statement a week after a panel in the lower chamber of Congress denied renewing the 74-year old ABS-CBN ‘s franchise in a 70-11 vote.

Former dictator Ferdinand Marcos had also shut down ABS-CBN after declaring martial law in 1972.

“Isang pamilya lang ang nag-uusap dyan, ganun nila nilaro ang bayan ko. Ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas, binuwal ko talaga, yan ang sentimyento ko,” Duterte said

Also on Monday, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano even posted on Facebook, likening ABS-CBN owners to oligarchs, who “deprive the country of billions in much needed funds by skirting and bending the law. Many times in connivance with the political elite.”

Roque though said he had no authority to speak for Cayetano.

He also denied that the president has cronies of his own, saying Duterte ally Dennis Uy built his fortune in mining.

“Mayaman na si Dennis Uy, dati pa. Hindi na kailangan si Presidente para lumaki,” Roque said.

In the same speech aired on Tuesday, Duterte declared coal would still be used for energy in the next 30 years, as alternative sources such as solar energy was still not sustainable.

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