Oligarchy – a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution -- is more rampant in the country today than before.
This was stressed by Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza, as he contradicted President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that his government has already toppled political oligarchs in the country.
In a television interview, Mendoza said political dynasties are the real oligarchs in the Philippines.
“They are the ones that keep on expanding, the number of family members engaged are increasing, and their wealth is growing faster than the economy,” he said.
Mendoza said Duterte focuses more on the oligarchy in businesses than in politics, where the concentration of power is increasingly growing.
The ASG dean suggested that if Duterte wants to level the playing field, the best way “is not to target families and firms, or weaken the public and private institutions, but to increase competition by encouraging more players to enter.”
Mendoza stressed that the system will not change if one oligarch is merely replaced by a “baby” oligarch who will eventually become a “full-grown” oligarch.
The Ateneo dean also expressed alarm that Duterte is hindering new domestic and foreign investment by targeting large firms and the individuals or families who own them.
“It creates an uncertain business environment wherein refusal to align yourself with those in authority risks your company becoming a target,” he stressed.
“The long-term impact of a personalistic approach to certain alleged oligarchs is a complete opposite of a level playing field nurtured by strong institutions. Investors are averse to uncertainty and high regulatory risk in dealing with the government. It will emphasize the ties between business and politics in the worst ways. Businesses who are simply doing what has been agreed on the contract are prone to make corrupt practices to remain favorable to those in power,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza added that an oligarchy is not dismantled when an oligarch simply tries to take down another oligarch.
“When political dynasties become fatter, oligarchic behavior increases. This behavior means that the concentrated power is being used to acquire even more power to influence the economy or nation,” he explained.
Mendoza said the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal would affect the competition within the broadcast industry, which was already just a duopoly between ABS-CBN and GMA.
“The denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise did not only result in 11,000 job losses; it also affects information dissemination around the country, especially during election and typhoon seasons. There would also be changes in the consumption behavior of the people who lost their jobs and other businesses that relied on the network’s operations,” he said.