By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
NTF-RTF ELCAC MEETING. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte shows a gesture of respect as he takes center stage during the Joint National Task Force-Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-RTF ELCAC) Region 8 meeting at the Summit Hotel in Tacloban City, Leyte on Thursday (March 18, 2021). Duterte took pride in his success in toppling oligarchy. (Presidential photo by Karl Norman Alonzo)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday took pride in his success in toppling oligarchy that has been controlling the country for a long time.
“If there is one thing that I will bring with me when I die, alam mo kung ano (you know what is that)? That I was able to dismantle the oligarchs holding the government,” Duterte said in a speech delivered in Tacloban City.
Duterte said he has spent his time going after business tycoons such as Lopez-owned ABS-CBN Corp., Fernando Zobel de Ayala of Manila Water, and Manuel V. Pangilinan of Maynilad.
“Talagang niyari ko sila (I really went after them),” he said.
He reiterated that he could not let water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad to take advantage of their consumers due to their supposed onerous water contracts with the government.
Duterte issued the statement as the government intends to craft new deals with the two water firms.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on March 4 said the government is making “finishing touches” on proposed new water concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water which Duterte approved last year.
With regard to ABS-CBN’s fate, Duterte insisted that he would not allow the embattled network to resume operations under his watch until it settles its tax obligations with the government.
Duterte’s latest tirade against ABS-CBN came, as he chided it anew for its supposed failure to air his campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections.
“ABS-CBN, kayrami na nilang kalokohang ginawa magkubra ng pera. Hindi sinauli. Hindi naman in-airtime ang binayad mo (ABS-CBN has done so many stupid things. They took my money and did not return it. They did not even air my advertisements),” he said. “Ngayon mag-sabi silang ibalik, hanggang presidente ako, bayaran nila muna ang utang (Now, they want a new franchise. While I am still the president, they have to pay their debt first).”
Duterte, in a speech delivered in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental on March 16, said ABS-CBN’s renewal bid is a “piece of garbage.”
ABS-CBN halted its broadcast operations on May 5, 2020 following the issuance of the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease-and-desist order.
It was in July last year when Duterte first said he dismantled the oligarchy without the need to declare martial law. (PNA)