President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced that he is going after the holdings company that controls media network ABS-CBN over its supposed debt to the Development Bank of the Philippines.
At the 23rd anniversary of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Duterte spoke out against Benpres, which has since been renamed Lopez Holdings Corp., the firm that owns major shareholdings in ABS-CBN and in the power, property, and telecommunications sectors.
"I will go after itong mga elite. And I will not name the person, but ‘yung mga company nila noon — Benpres and about six other companies — may utang sila sa DBP. At ang utang nila, umabot ng... to finance this… pera ng tao, gagamitin nila to finance their business pero kanila ‘yung kita," he said.
"And yet, they were not able to pay and it was condoned by government. Kaya noong binabasa ko ‘yung... sabi ko, 'I will go after the elite in this country because they are the ones really who’s benefiting from all of these things,'" he added.
Duterte had previously threatened to block the franchise of ABS-CBN, which he had accused of not airing his campaign ad in last year's elections. Aside from ABS-CBN, he had repeatedly hit out at the Prieto-Rufino family that owns the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and he went on another tirade on Wednesday.
"Malakas ‘yan silang mag-atake, they have the media outlets and all. But sila talaga ‘yung nakikinabang sa corruption ng gobyerno," Duterte said.
"Ayaw magbayad ng taxes na tama. Ayaw magbayad ng utang. Na ‘yung Mile Long, were it not for… Kung hindi ako na-Presidente hindi talaga masauli ‘yang propedad na ‘yan," he added.
Duterte was referring to the Mile Long property in Makati City, which was developed by Sunvar Realty Development Corp. owned by the Prieto-Rufino family. Tenants of the property recently vacated the compound following a court ruling.
Last month, owners of the Inquirer announced they were in talks to sell their stake in the newspaper to San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang, who is known to be close to Duterte. —JST, GMA News