President Rodrigo Duterte has denied he started his own brand of cronyism in the country after a Japan-based publication claimed that he had “destroyed the Philippine elite” to choose his own.
In a speech Friday, Duterte said he would not gain anything with cronies and opted for girlfriends whom he could hug.
“Several noisy, interested rich people are claiming that ‘Duterte would give that to his crony.’ I don’t have crony, Duterte said while he was in Pigacawayan, North Cotabato.
“I have girlfriends. Crony, I have none. They are useless. I cannot hug those fools. I prefer a girlfriend, not crony, he said, drawing laughter from his audience.
Last December, Nikkei’s contributing writer Aurora Almendral wrote a report titled “Crony capital: How Duterte embraced the oligarchs,” in which she claimed that the President’s three years in office showed that the systemic transformation he promised during the presidential campaign turned out as “more like a personal vendetta.”
The article also noted that Duterte took aim at the “corruption and excesses of wealth-hoarding families” like the Ongpin clan.
After Duterte assailed major water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad, as well as broadcast giant ABS-CBN, he was accused by militant groups that this was part of his strategy to favor his cronies.
In his speech, Duterte said the “shameless oligarchs” were one the pressing problems of the country, but added he had no problem with those who had a “social conscience.”
“The problem in the Philippines under my watch is the shameless oligarchs. Those rich who have a social conscience, you have no problem with me, he said.
“I’m not mad at the rich people but usually or historically, it has always been the oligarchs who choose their presidential bet. If elected, they always ask for a favor.”