Dismantling oligarchy

"Do we understand what oligarchs are?"


Santa Banana, I don’t know why President Rodrigo Duterte had to boast that he had succeeded in dismantling oligarchy in the Philippines without proclaiming martial law. He did this after the House of Representatives denied the renewal of the franchise of Lopez-owned ABS-CBN network.

Duterte’s spokesman claims that the President was not referring, per se, to the Lopezes. But my gulay, everybody knows what he was talking about.

But perhaps we need to refresh our understanding of oligarchs.

Webster defines oligarchy as a group controlling an economy through corruption. If indeed Duterte was referring to the Lopezes, who are influential because of their broadcast network, then he was correct in some sense. But if he was referring to taipans like the Ayalas, Lucio Tan and Manny Pangilinan – well, it’s not only unfair but unjust.

But what did the Lopez family do to Duterte for him to call them oligarchs? Clearly, the President knows how the Lopezes ruled the economy for decades using the power of their media outfits. They pursued money, politics and power.

I was business editor of The Philippines Herald during the heyday of the Lopezes, so I know what I am talking about. The Lopez patriarch’s brother, Fernando Lopez, even became vice president.

I knew for a fact that Manila Chronicle, which was then Lopez-owned, had a running battle with Andres Soriano, then the owner of Philippine Airlines. The Lopez patriarch wanted control of the airline. Soriano had to buy The Herald from Vicente Madrigal to protect himself and his business. The Lopezes did not hesitate to use Manila Chronicle and ABS-CBN against anybody who stood in their way.

On record, I decry what the President said about oligarchs. I know many of them and I know they continue to be successful not because of money and political power but because of hard work, patience and perseverance.


Going back to the cacophony of views regarding the junking of the ABS-CBN franchise. It is obvious that the Lopezes are still hoping they can have their mass media power back. They are counting on the support of many people.

A survey found that three in four Filipinos want ABS-CBN’s franchise renewed. But do the Lopezes really believe that this could sway the House members who voted against them? My gulay, right and wrong are not decided by surveys!


I am concerned about the move of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to have policemen and barangay officials go house to house to see if there are coronavirus patients who need to be quarantined in government facilities.

I have two issues with this. First, private hospitals are themselves on full capacity. How else can the medical personnel still pay attention to mild cases?

My second concern is the entry of the police and barangay officials into the homes of people through a simple order from the DILG Secretary. It’s against the law, my gulay – nobody can enter a house without a warrant.

Why aren’t people raising hell about this? The intrusion of government, especially the police, is clearly dangerous and against the law.


As of this writing, the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide is near the 60,000-mark. With greater mass testing and with increased mobility of people, the number of cases can only continue to rise. Malacanang and the Inter-Agency Task Force must explain to the public why this is happening.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , ABS-CBN , COVID-19 , Inter-Agency Task Force
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