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Facing soldiers, Duterte boasts of 'dismantling' oligarchy without declaring martial law

Facing soldiers in Sulu province on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte boasted of dismantling the country's oligarchy without declaring martial law.

In a speech aired on Tuesday, Duterte said these oligarchs have been controlling the country's economy for years.

“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,” he 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,” Duterte added.

Duterte was in Sulu to talk to troops amid the tension that resulted from the killing of four soldiers by policemen in what the national police called a shooting incident but what a military official said was "murder."

Though Duterte did not mention any names, his speech against oligarchs came less than a week after the franchise panel of the House of Representatives voted to deny ABS-CBN's application for franchise renewal due to alleged violations.

Not the Lopezes

But at a televised press briefing Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was not referring to the Lopezes, who own ABS-CBN, but to tycoon Lucio Tan, the Ayalas and Manuel V. Pangilinan — businessmen who earned Duterte’s ire in the past due to some issues.

“Hindi po obvious ‘yun,” Roque said. “Ang sabi ko po, he was referring to the oligarchs which he named and he actually threatened to destroy but reconsidered.”

Roque had earlier stated that Duterte, who had previously threatened to block ABS-CBN's franchise renewal over his unaired campaign advertisements in 2016, was neutral on the franchise issue after the network apologized.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, in the same speech in Sulu, Duterte said it would be no skin off his back if the military decides to oust him from power.

“Kung kayo, tangggalin niyo ako, mas mabuti.  P***ngina, kasi ayaw ko maghawak ng gobyerno na wala akong magawa,” he said.

“Itong [next] two years, ipitan ito. Kung mapaalis ako…wala pang mangyari, at least nakita niyo,” Duterte added.

Duterte's six-year term ends in 2022. KBK, GMA News