Equating ABS-CBN closure to dismantled oligarchy ‘inaccurate,’ says Villanueva


The shutdown of ABS-CBN Corporation should not be taken as equivalent to the fall of oligarchs because such is inaccurate, Senator Joel Villanueva said on Tuesday.

"To some people who want to equate the non-renewal of ABS-CBN [franchise] to dismantling of oligarchy, [it] is inaccurate. It has more negative effects to the economy and the business climate," Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said in a message.

"To deny the franchise of a company, which has no clear violations of our laws, sends a signal that politicians can stop a business operation on a whim. This is not a conducive climate for investment and therefore contrary to public welfare," he added.

In a televised address aired earlier in the day, President Rodrigo Duterte boasted of dismantling oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law.

“Kung mamatay ako, mahulog eroplano, p***ngina, I am very happy. Alam mo [kung] bakit? Without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

“Without declaring martial law, sinira ko iyang mga tao na humahawak sa ekonomiya, hindi nagbabayad [ng tax]. They take advantage of their political power every election. Isang kuwarto lang iyan, nag-uusap, 'Sinong kandidato natin ngayon?' Isang pamilya lang nag-uusap,” he added.

The President did not mention specific names or groups but his remarks came on the heels of the House of Representatives decision to junk the ABS-CBN Corporation's franchise application.

Duterte previously threatened to block the franchise renewal of the media giant for not airing his political campaign ads in 2016.


Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque—who maintained that Malacanang was neutral on the issue of ABS-CBN's franchise—clarified that Duterte was referring to oligarchs he has personally dealt with, such as Lucio Tan whom the former pressed to pay for Philippine Airlines Inc.'s unpaid airport charges, and the owners of water concessionaires whom Duterte asked to have "fair" contracts with.

"Ito naman pong kaso ng ABS-CBN ay kaso na nag-expire ang prangkisa at hindi po na-renew ng Kongreso," Roque added.

'Institutional, legal constraints'

Villanueva said he does not see a significant change in the powers dominating the economy in the past decades.

"This is because of our institutional and legal arrangements that do not facilitate enough competition to challenge the market control of the few," he said.

He underscored that scrapping policies that hamper competition would be a "reasonable strategy." —LDF, GMA News