Drilon denies going after Duterte kin, role in gov't water deal after SONA spotlight

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon denied his recent remarks against political dynasties targeted President Rodrigo Duterte’s kin, saying he has long supported the policy even before the tenure of the chief executive. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 28)— Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday denied his recent remarks against political dynasties targeted President Rodrigo Duterte’s kin, saying he has long supported the policy even before the tenure of the chief executive.

“I do not know why I was singled out,” Drilon told CNN Philippines’ The Source, responding to Duterte’s tirades against him during Monday’s State of the Nation Address.

“Probably the President erroneously thought that I was after his family, because of my position on political dynasties. But the position I have on political dynasties was already there even before he became president, because that is my belief that indeed dynasties would not be good for our system of democracy,” the veteran lawmaker added, adding that he filed a measure on the issue even before Duterte’s children got elected to public office.

Three of the president's children currently hold key positions in government: his daughter Sara serves as Davao City Mayor, while sons Sebastian "Baste" Duterte and Paolo Duterte hold vice mayoral and congressional posts, respectively.

Drilon was put on the spotlight during Duterte’s penultimate SONA, with the latter accusing him of defending “oligarchs” particularly the Lopez family— a claim the solon has denied.

RELATED: Duterte hits Drilon for defending Lopezes amid ABS-CBN shutdown

The opposition lawmaker admitted that members of the Lopez family have become his “friends” due to similar roots, but stressed he has not asked any favor from the ABS-CBN majority owners.

“I took a position that we should renew the (ABS-CBN) franchise because the issue was freedom of the press. The Lopezes were not the issue,” Drilon said, adding he was “surprised” by the speech callout.

The media giant earlier this month failed to obtain a fresh congressional franchise, forcing it to stay off the airwaves.

ABS-CBN has repeatedly hogged the limelight in Duterte’s previous speeches— with the President’s rants stemming from the network's failure to run some of his campaign advertisements during the 2016 elections. Duterte has since accepted the company’s apology.

No hand in ‘onerous’ water deals

By the tail-end of the SONA, Duterte once again floated accusations against Drilon, this time questioning him about supposed ties with the ACCRA law firm when the government’s water contract with the Ayalas was being drafted.

Drilon, in response, likewise denied having a hand in the crafting of the supposed “onerous” 1997 water deal, saying he had already retired from the firm and was working in Congress at that time.

“First of all, on the grave of my parents, I swear that I had nothing to do with the contract. Not even a period or a comma. Up to this point, I have not seen a copy of that contract,” Drilon said.

“In 1997, I was already in the Senate. I’ve long retired from ACCRA by that time,” he added.

Duterte earlier criticized government's water contracts with Maynilad and Manila Water after a review of provisions that he deemed "highly disadvantageous" to the state.

The development prompted the government to craft new contracts with the major concessionaires, which were targeted to be finalized within the year.

READ: Duterte unlikely to sue water firms after apology to Ayala, Pangilinan business groups – Roque