President Rodrigo Duterte says he is “very happy” he has “dismantled the oligarchy” in the Philippines without declaring martial law.
“Without declaring martial law, I was able to dismantle the oligarchy that controlled our economy,” Duterte said in a speech in a military camp in Jolo.
“That’s how they played my country. So if I die, if the plane crashes, I will be very happy,” Duterte said.
“You know why? Because without declaring martial law I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy and the Filipino people.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque denied that Duterte was referring to the Lopez family, which controls ABS-CBN Corp. when he bragged he had successfully “dismantled the oligarchy.”
He said Duterte had been referring to Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan, and the Ayala clan.
Senator Francis Pangilinan accused Duterte of making up the alleged problems on the oligarchs when he said he had dismantled them without declaring martial law after the House of Representatives rejected renewing ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise.
Senator Joel Villanueva described as inaccurate equating the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise with the dismantling of the oligarchy.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the big businessmen producing goods and services that benefit consumers, create jobs, pay taxes and had a strong corporate social responsibility should be celebrated and emulated.
Senator Christopher Go said Duterte was not referring to any specific case when he made his statement but was talking about the impact of the administration’s continuing fight against corruption.
Senator Sonny Angara said while Duterte had good intentions in balancing the economy, several observers had found the judgment on ABS-CBN was harsh.
Duterte said only a few rich people were deciding the outcome of the country’s elections.
“Every election in the past, present and future, they will gather in one room and say, ‘Who will be our candidate this time? Okay, you handle this, you handle that. You raise the funds’,” Duterte said.
“Maybe around five people. One family is involved in the discussion.
That’s how they played around with my country.”
Duterte said when he ran for the presidency in 2016, he pledged to combat corruption especially at the higher echelons of society, and that he thought the alleged corruption at the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs was small compared to the “billions” stolen in the upper echelons.
He said he had been able to control corruption and vowed to continue fighting it.
“It is not that I am inordinately proud of it, but that it was actually a part of my campaign,” he said.
“I challenge anybody to say that I am lying. I said it in my own language. It was rude but I said these rich people were milking the government and the people dry.”
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