Malacañang on Saturday slammed the “baseless” reports of cronyism under the Duterte administration, saying President Rodrigo Duterte has always despised the use of connections to bypass procedures.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar denied that President and his officials are practicing partiality in awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues, calling the reports “erroneous and highly deplorable.”
“Any claims and attacks being made in relation to this matter are by the opposition and by interest groups that are against the socio-economic policies and reforms by this administration,” he said.
Andanar made the statement after the Nikkei Asian Review published a story about how President Duterte supposedly promised to destroy the Philippines’ elite but ended up embracing the oligarchs.
“Not only are these baseless assertions erroneous, [but] they are also highly deplorable,” he added.
The Palace official said the administration does not tolerate cronyism, citing Duterte’s dismay over two water firms’ “onerous” contracts with the state.
“And this commitment has always been consistent in such a way that this administration refuses to kowtow to the Metro Manila water concessionaires and its agreements with the previous administrations that have resulted in unfavorable repercussions not only to the government but also to Filipino consumers,” Andanar said.
He recalled how Duterte has continuously lashed out against oligarchs who have promoted corruption, provided bribes to government officials in public-private transactions, and eked out favors through their political connections.
“These are actions the President vowed never to tolerate,” he said.
Duterte recently ordered the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General to draft a new water concession contract that would be favorable to the state and the Filipino people, Andanar noted.
He said that people have seen that having connections and relations with officials in the present administration doesn’t entitle any individual or any business entity to privileges that would allow them to bypass government policies and legal procedures.
“This especially holds true with regards to engaging with companies for government infrastructure and development projects. We have continuously strengthened measures and undertaken steps along the way that would allow for fair and impartial procedures on public-private partnerships,” Andanar assured.
Malacañang has also advocated for an equitable application of the law to all business entities, regardless of origin, by strengthening of the Philippine Competition Commission, Anti-Red Tape Authority, and National Economic and Development Authority’s functions to undermine monopolies and duopolies.
The administration is also looking to amending the current Constitution on business ownership and open up the Philippine economy to more foreign investments, Andanar noted.
“Our Comprehensive Tax Reform Program [CTRP] furthers this commitment as we continuously promote the reduction of personal and corporate income tax to promote a competitive and inclusive business climate while curtailing the tax incentives that have been abused by large corporations and oligarchs for decades,” he said.