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The wealthy

"Rodrigo Duterte, an unabashedly pro-poor President and the most anti-elite President ever, is good for the very rich Filipinos."

Forbes Magazine has come up with its latest list of Filipino billionaires. They are:

1. Manuel Villar $5.5 billion; 2. John Gokongwei Jr. $5.1 billion; 3. Enrique Razon Jr. $4.8 billion; 4. Lucio Tan $4.4 billion; 5. Tony Tan Caktiong $3.9 billion; 6. Ramon Ang $2.9 billion; 7. Andrew Tan $2.7 billion; 8. Hans Sy $2.4 billion; 9. Herbert Sy $2.4 billion; 10. Harley Sy $2.2 billion; 11. Henry Sy Jr. $2.2 billion; 12. Tessie Sy $2.2 billion; 13. Elizabeth Sy $1.9 billion; 14. Eduardo Cojuangco $1.4 bilion; 15. Robert Coyiuto Jr. $1.4 billion; 16. Ricardo Po Sr. and family $1.2 billion; and 17. Roberto Ongpin $1.1 billion.

Forbes desegregated the $18-billion wealth of the family of the late Henry Sy Sr. The result is that instead of being the richest family, the Sy children are now ranked below No. 7 with the fourth child and the second son, Hans Sy, being the richest Sy, with wealth of $2.4 billion. Next richest is the fifth child and the third son, No. 9 Herbert Sy $2.4 billion; followed by the youngest child and youngest son, No. 10 Harley Sy $2.2 billion. No. 11 is the third child and eldest son Henry Sy Jr. $2.2 billion; No. 12 the eldest child and daughter Tessie Sy $2.2 billion; and No. 13 is the second eldest child, Elizabeth Sy $1.9 billion.

Still, I reckon the Sy family as the wealthiest in the Philippines. The wealth is compact, intact, and growing every second, with collegial and well-structured leadership. The wealth is broad-based, from cash (banking) to casinos, from property to hospitality, from schools to logistics (a new business).

Here is my own ranking of the wealthiest Filipinos and my estimate of their wealth, based on BizNewsAsia Research (figures are in million US dollars):

1. Henry Sy Family 14,511; 2. Manuel Villar 5,242; 3. Iñigo Zobel and sister 5,099; 4. John Gokongwei 4,984; 5. Enrique Razon Jr. 4,182; 6. Tony Tan Caktiong 4,141; 7. Lucio Tan 4,139; 8. Erramon Aboitiz 3,801; 9. Ramon Ang 3,209; 10. Arthur Ty (2,245); 11. Isidro Consunji 1,938; 12. Lucio Co 1,877; 13. Andrew Tan 1,778; 14. Roberto Ongpin 1,541; 15. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. 1,000; 16. Jaime Zobel Ayala siblings 839; 17. Helen Yuchengco Dee 613; 18. Oscar Lopez 580; 19. Andrew Gotianun Sr. 469; Edgar Sia II 20. 360.

The world has 2,696 dollar billionaires (in a population of 7.3 billion). At least 15 of them are in the Philippines. I suspect the Philippines has at least 50 dollar billionaires but I cannot prove it.

If you think hard times are coming, think again. The Philippines will register the world’s second-highest growth rate in number of millionaires over the next five years, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2019, 38 percent. The fastest growing is India, 39 percent.

Eight of the Top Ten Growing Wealth Populations are in Asia. The Philippines is one of them. The Wealth Report covers 59 countries. In the Philippines, the same report counts 32,363 dollar millionaires and only 215 with wealth of $30 million or more. Over the next five years, or by 2023, the number of Filipino dollar millionaires will grow by 34 percent, and the $30 Million Club by 38 percent. Their wealth will grow six times faster than the rate of expansion of the Philippine economy.

One may conclude thus: Rodrigo Duterte, an unabashedly pro-poor President and the most anti-elite President ever, is good for the very rich Filipinos.

Ironically, if you listen to the voices and texts of the wealthy elite, they are pro-Robredo and pro-Otso Diretso senatorial candidates.

No wonder Dutere wants Otso Diretso to go direct to Hell. Truth to tell, Duterte’s senatorial ticket is very egalitarian—a blend of the very rich (Cynthia Villar) and the very poor (Bato dela Rosa, a son of market vendors), the unknown (Bong Go), an advocate against pasaway kids (Freddie Aguilar of “Anak’), and old and new dynasties. – Villar (again), Pia Cayetano, and Imee Marcos (the Yellows hate her not finishing her courses and not attending proper graduation ceremonies).

Ironically again, Duterte’s economic policies are more pro-rich than pro-poor. The inflation rate rose to its highest in 11 years in 2018. That didn’t affect the rich at all. Why? Because when the rich buy, they don’t ask “how much” but how many they can buy. Besides, inflation inflates the value of the properties of the rich.

Duterte’s economic managers have also lowered the corporate income tax from 35 percent, to 30 percent (although the 30 remains the highest in ASEAN). Best of all, Duterte has lowered the inheritance or estate tax, to an unheard of 6 percent (from 20 to 40 percent before).

A 6-percent estate tax means the children of the rich, even while sitting on their asses, bumming around or sniffing something, will inherit their parents’ wealth practically intact (assuming inflation rate of 6 percent). It also means all the hidden wealth stashed in cash, bank vaults, property, vessels, art, and other assets here and abroad can now come out of hiding. The penalty for going legit is only a princely 6 percent or $6 for every $100.

Someone asked me—how do you make things equal in the Philippines where the rich get richer and the poor poorer? I told him about how China (Great Leap Forward), Indonesia (The Purge), and Cambodia (The Genocide) did it. These countries massacred their elite, by the hundreds of thousands, even millions.

But then, a new kind of elite rose to the top. In recent years, China, Indonesia, and Cambodia have been growing faster than the Philippines.

There must be a lesson there. One is that the new generation of leaders do better, in governance, at least.

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Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Growing Wealth Populations , Wealth , Economy
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