President Rodrigo Duterte was not referring to the Lopez family, which controls ABS-CBN Corp., when he declared on Monday his success in “dismantling” the oligarchy without having to declare martial law, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said the President referred to tycoon Lucio Tan, the Ayalas and Manuel V. Pangilinan who earned Duterte’s ire in the past due to some issues.
“Hindi po obvious ‘yun,” Roque said in a televised briefing when told that the President’s speech before troops in Jolo, Sulu targeted the Lopezes.
“Ang sabi ko po, he was referring to the oligarchs which he named and he actually threatened to destroy but reconsidered.”
In 2018, Duterte said he would no longer bring up Tan's alleged tax liabilities in the future after Philippine Airlines, which Tan chairs, settled unpaid dues and offered to mount a special flight for distressed migrant Filipino workers from Kuwait.
The President even wished the 85-year-old businessman a very long life.
Last May, Duterte apologized to the Ayalas, who own Manila Water Co. Inc. and Pangilinan of Maynilad Water Services Inc. for his hurtful words in connection with the water concession deals.
Duterte made the statement as he expressed his gratitude to big businesses for assisting the government and aiding the people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though Duterte did not mention names, his speech against oligarchs came less than a week after the House of Representatives legislative franchises committee opposed the renewal of ABS-CBN's broadcast franchise due to alleged violations.
Roque said it was coincidental that the President’s speech came in the wake of the denial of the franchise renewal.
“I believe so kasi palagi naman niya sinasabi sa mga talumpati niya ‘yung mga oligarchs na talagang siya mismong bumuwag. Ito naman pong kaso ng ABS-CBN eh kaso po na nag-expire ang prangkisa at hindi na-renew ng Kongreso,” the Palace official said.
Duterte had previously threatened to block ABS-CBN's franchise renewal over his unaired campaign advertisements in 2016, but Roque said the President adopted a neutral stance on the issue after the network apologized in February.
ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered it to stop broadcasting due to an expired franchise. —KBK, GMA News