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Solons, journalists scrutinize Duterte’s claims of ‘dismantling the oligarchy’

President Duterte’s claims, however, only ended up depriving more than 11,000 ABS-CBN workers of a stable job amid a pandemic.

Several politicians and journalists denounced President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that he had “dismantled the oligarchy” in the country without even declaring martial law.

“Kaya ko mamatay, mahulog sa eroplano. I am very happy. Alam mo bakit? Without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy of the Filipino people,” Duterte said in a speech on July 13, in front of soldiers in Jolo, Sulu, three days after ABS-CBN was denied renewal of their license to broadcast.

‘Sanitized speech’

In a statement posted on the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s (PCIJ) Facebook page, several journalists and media organizations demanded that the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) explain why Duterte’s speech was sanitized. The statement had pointed out that some portions of Duterte’s speech were left out, particularly those where Duterte appeared to be claiming that he was responsible for ABS-CBN’s closure.

“Yun namang ABS-CBN, binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas. Ginawa ko,” the statement quoted from an unedited audio recording of the whole speech dug up by the signees’ colleagues. This was not included in the version of the speech released by the government-run PTV-4 which is under the supervision of the PCOO.

This contradicted presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s claims that Duterte’s remarks referred to Philippine Airlines Chairman Lucio Tan and water concessionaires Manny Pangilinan and Ayala Group who had rifts with the President in the past.

In the same statement posted by the PCIJ, they remarked that it is difficult to trust a government’s pronouncements when the president’s very own words can be twisted by his constituents.

“The least you owe the people you profess to serve is the truth, no more, no less,” the statement said.

Duterte ‘only dismantled the lives of workers’

Senator Risa Hontiveros opposed Duterte’s claim, saying he did not dismantle the oligarchy but instead deprived more than 11,000 Filipinos of jobs upon ABS-CBN’s closure.

“Hindi totoong na-dismantle ang oligarkiya. Ang na-dismantle ay ang buhay ng mga ordinaryong manggagawa. Solusyon sa krisis ang dapat hatid natin ngayon, imbes na dagdag-krisis,” Hontiveros said.

ABS-CBN announced that it will start laying off workers on August 31 two months after it went off-air due to the cease and desist order that the National Telecommunications Commission had issued for an expired franchise. But apart from the ABS-CBN employees, Hontiveros pointed out that vendors and tricycle drivers and the like making a living along Mother Ignacia would also be affected by the House’s decision to deny the ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal.

‘Get rid of political dynasties first’

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the President to push for the enactment of a law prohibiting political dynasties, saying that the President had the capacity to do so because the seats in Congress are mostly filled with administration allies.

“The lack of an anti-dynasty system or provision in our system allows oligarchy to continue,” Drilon said.

While Drilon acknowledged that policies should be adopted to dismantle oligarchies, the administration must also make sure that “the oligarchs are not substituted by cronies.”

Duterte has also established his own political clan in Davao City, with his children Sara Duterte-Carpio serving as mayor, Sebastian “Baste” Duterte as vice mayor, and Paolo Duterte representing the 1st District of Davao City in the lower chamber of Congress.

Dismantle ‘military oligarchy’

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman also challenged the sincerity of Duterte’s campaign against oligarchy, saying that the administration should not only target “economic oligarchs” but “military oligarchs” as well.

“If the campaign against the oligarchy is to be sincere, all forms of oligarchy must be dismantled including the favored military oligarchy,” Lagman said.

Lagman emphasized that Duterte has paid undue efforts in establishing military oligarchies in the country, as evidenced by Duterte’s numerous appointed officials with military background. [P]

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