DOHA—President Rodrigo Duterte stepped up his attacks against media organizations perceived to be critical of his administration, this time taking on the Lopez family which owns broadcast giant ABS-CBN, accusing them of keeping sacred cows and attacking rival mining firms to protect their own mining interests.
Duterte again picked on ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and said a Lopez subsidiary was engaged in mining.
“ABS-CBN has interests in mining. They have a mining subsidiary,” he said in Filipino.
Duterte’s Environment Secretary, Regina Lopez, is part of the clan that owns ABS-CBN. The family has diversified interests in media, telecommunications; power generation and distribution; manufacturing; and property development.
But in confirmation hearings last month, University of the Philippines professor of Geosciences, Carlo Arcilla, said that Lopez deliberately issued a memo that excludes certain quarrying activities—including those of her family-owned First Balfour—from a moratorium on mining in watershed areas.
First Balfour, a company owned by the Lopezes, operates an open pit quarry within a 13-hectare watershed area in Lobo, Batangas. It mines aggregates, one of the subjects of the exclusion.
Arcilla, said while Lopez imposed a moratorium on other quarrying firms, she allowed First Balfour to operate within a watershed. He added that Lopez canceled the mineral production and sharing agreement with another quarry firm, MRL, which was located right next to First Balfour.
In another Filipino community event in Doha, Duterte discredited the Lopez-owned media giant, saying that their news content should not be believed.
Citing his earlier claims of estafa against the broadcast network, Duterte instead told Filipinos to watch their rival TV networks.
“I went to ABS-CBN and I pleaded to be given a chance to air an ad to counter propaganda against me. Those sons-of-bitches took my money but did not run the ad,” Duterte said in Filipino.
“That’s why you shouldn’t believe the news from ABS-CBN. You can watch TV5 or GMA7,” he added.
Duterte also said the Philippine Daily Inquirer was beholden to the Aquino family after their owners, the Prietos, were allowed to get away with more than P1 billion in tax liabilities for the family-owned Dunkin Donuts.
“That’s why the Inquirer always defends Aquino. The Inquirer has a P1-billion debt but they editorialize on morality and righteousness. They owed P1 billion but [former Internal Revenue commissioner] Kim Henares collected only P8 million,” he said.
He also vowed to make sure the owners of ABS-CBN and the Inquirer—and other “oligarchs”—pay the right taxes.