Duterte claims victory in dismantling oligarchy in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte has touted his success in toppling an "oligarchy" without the need to declare martial law in the country.

In a speech before troops in Jolo, Sulu, he said he was able to end the power of one family which took advantage of its "political power."

"Kaya [kung] ako mamatay, mahulog ‘yung eroplano, p***** i**, I am very happy. Alam mo bakit? Sabi ko without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy of the Filipino people," he said in a speech that aired on Tuesday. "Sinira ko 'yung mga tao na humahawak sa ekonomiya at umiipit. At hindi nagbabayad."

[Translation: If I die after a plane crashes, I will die happy. You know why? Because I dismanted the oligarchy that controlled the country's economy, without the need to declare martial law. They are also not paying."

Duterte, who was in Jolo on Monday, did not specify which family he was pertaining to.

But his remark comes days after a House panel rejected ABS-CBN's franchise application bid. This was only the second time Philippines' major broadcasting network went off air since then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972.

After the House panel voted no to grant the Lopez-owned media network a new franchise on July 10, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano maintained that Congress simply had to end the privilege of one family.

"We simply put an end to the privilege of one family in using a public resource to protect and promote their private interests," he said on Monday.

Duterte has publicly threatened since 2018 to shutdown the network for failing to air his paid 2016 presidential campaign ads and for running an opposition advertisement against him. The network apologized, but explained that it failed to air some of Duterte's ads because the spots were ordered in the last few days of the campaign period and many previous telecast orders came ahead.

Duterte has also cursed the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez and called him a thief, saying he will reject the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. He previously slammed the media conglomerate for its supposedly unfair labor practices, and earlier challenged the network to accompany him to the central bank to open his bank accounts, amid news reports that he had undeclared wealth.

Malacañang has claimed Duterte is "neutral" on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal bid.

Members of the Lopez family are not included in the Top 20 of Philippines' richest individuals. Oscar Lopez, the Chairman/President/CEO/COO/CFO at ABS-CBN Holdings Corp., ranked as the 27th richest in Forbes' 2019 Philippines' 50 Richest list. He has a net worth of $460 million as of September 2019.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who admitted that he did not watch Duterte's speech, clarified that the President was not referring to ABS-CBN. He said the remark only coincided with the end of the media network's franchise.

"Itong kaso ng ABS-CBN ay kaso na nag-expire na prangkisa at hindi na-renew ng Kongreso," he said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

[Translation: This case is about ABS-CBN's franchise expiring and the House decision not to renew it.]

He said Duterte was referring to Philippine Airlines Chairman Lucio Tan and water concessionaires Manny Pangilinan and the Ayala Group based on the President's previous gripes against these businessmen.

"Pagdating sa oligarchy, paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi — Well, bati naman na sila ngayon — MVP, Ayala, Lucio Tan," he added.

[Translation: When it comes to oligarchy, he has always talked about Manny Pangilinan, Ayalas, and Lucio Tan. But all is well now.]