A call for just ‘destruction’

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FORMER Marcos-era Trade Minister and business tycoon Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin found himself in President Rodrigo Duterte’s crosshairs last week when he was singled out as one of the oligarchs “who count their money on private planes while the poor suffer,” and whom Duterte has vowed to “destroy.”

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Ongpin earned the President’s ire because of his stake in online gambling firm Philweb; Duterte earlier vowed to stop online gambling in the Philippines, and apparently intends to apply the same aggression to the issue that he has to stamping out the country’s illegal drug scourge.

Although he has described himself in recent interviews as a “businessman,” and, in the context of his time as a government official during the Marcos Administration, a “technocrat,” Bobby Ongpin is the epitome of an oligarch, at least in the way we understand the description in this country. He has enjoyed a close relationship with a succession of governments, has a significant personal stake in a wide range of businesses, and is part of the privileged fraction of a percent of the population who controls the greater part of the country’s wealth; according to Forbes, Ongpin last year was the Philippines’ 20th-richest person, with a net worth of about $900 million.

And he has been no stranger to high-level financial controversy. Several years ago, he was accused of unfairly benefiting from loans through Development Bank of the Philippines, a case in which he was later completely cleared of wrongdoing. More recently, he was sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for insider trading involving Philex, the mining company, and hit with a stiff penalty: P174 million in fines, and permanent disqualification from holding a directorship in any Philippine company. That penalty, however, has been held in abeyance by a temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals, pending a more detailed explanation from the SEC.

Although he has not been accused of any specific wrongdoing involving Philweb, the connection between Ongpin and the biggest company in the online gaming business Duterte wishes to banish from the Philippines was obviously too much for the President to ignore.

Just as with his “war on drugs,” there is something very praiseworthy about Duterte’s intentions to fight the chronic economic inequality that has for decades kept more than a quarter of the population below the poverty line while supporting a privileged few dollar billionaires.

Wrongdoings must be proven by the appropriate legal processes, and while we know that our system needs to be corrected, we certainly would not begrudge anyone who enriches himself through fair means, within the bounds of the law, and in a manner that uplifts their employees and communities. The reality, though, is that has not been the way in which many “oligarchs” have earned and continue to earn their riches, and the persistent inequality in the country is stark proof of that.

We support the President in his effort to begin the process to correct this great social imbalance. And thus, we feel compelled to offer a reminder: Just as with the campaign against drugs, corrupt government officials, red tape, environmental destruction, or any other initiative, fairness must be the guiding principle.

Unfortunately, the campaign against illegal drugs is already raising questions over whether fairness is given its proper place; while petty drug dealers and so-called ‘drug lords’ are threatened with death (a threat that has been carried out hundreds of times already), the President’s latest warning to local government officials and judges suspected of connections to the drug trade has been a distinctly milder promise that they would “face charges” if they did not surrender.

The shift in tone is not lost on keen observers and if the same shift is allowed to persist in the new campaign to “destroy” the oligarchs, much of the confidence and goodwill President Duterte has earned from the people will be lost.

Bobby Ongpin is not the only oligarch; more names should follow. And every one of them should be given a fair chance to respond to the accusations against them.

If Duterte is right – and we believe that he is – then there will be nothing but good to come from being fair, except for those who are proven to have bent or broken the law and taken unfair advantage of the country and its people for their own gain for too long.

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9 Comments

  1. Dapat si MVP din eh mapagtuunan ng pansin ni PRRDU30. Nagpagamit sya sa mga dayuhan para yurakan at paikutin ang saligan batas ng Pilipinas.

  2. Regulatory capture, rent seeking, influence peddling, uneven playing field characterize these oligarchs. Gisado na nang husto sa sariling mantika ang bayan. Time to pay up!!

  3. sana bigyan pansin din iyong mga nasa power industry na mga negosyante at kung maari muling mabaik sa Gobyerno ang power production para bumaba ang bayad sa koryente at maiwasan ang maraming brownout…

  4. Ignacio Balbutin on

    yes, clip the wings of those rich tycoons who are using their wealth and influence to acquire more wealth and disregards their poor workers benefits and regular salaries.

  5. I hope and wish that Ongpin’s assets will all be sequester very soon. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
    To the people who criticize Pres. Duterte’s action please give him a chance to rule this country for I am sure there is goodness in his action.

  6. The Ayalas, the Aboitizes, the Lopezes, and their ilk who created wealth through government privileges, political networking and brute economic power should be taken to task. There is nothing wrong with wealth so long as it is earned honestly and following rules that are not stacked in their favor.

  7. Legal processes cannot be applied in the Philippines for we have corrupt justices who are being paid by these rich people. Ongpin and the other Chinese oligarchs who are enriching themselves at the expense of the Filipino people should and must face the firing squad. These Chinese people are the main reasons why we have so many poor population in the Philippines. These Chinese oligarchs are the ones who have judges in their payroll and politicians like the Binary family. Calling all vigilantes: let us annihilate all these corrupt oligarchs, judges and politicians.

    • Why is the RP in crisis, first know that Israel’s No.1 enemy, worse even than the Philistines, are the devious Amalekites known for sowing corruption, deceiving Gods people by supporting unworthy leaders to highest positions so the nation became vulnerable and foolish, like what happened to the RP. And who, WHO, are these Amalakites today? You may or may not be surprised to know their descendants are the nation of China.

      Pls. Read China (Gog & Magog) in Prophecy :
      http://www.discoveringislam.org/china_gog_magog.htm

      Yes, if the Jews are Gods Chosen people, the Chinese (Amalakites) are Satans chosen race. In the Philippines they have expertly corrupted our politics with campaign bribes, monopolized and manipulated business, poison our peoples bodies and minds with meth and media, defile our Faith in God with Chinese superstition, astrology and pagan idol festivals. The word Amalek means “to lick” or to “salivate,” and if there is one thing the Chinese people are known for, it is spitting in public.

      They plot and schemed in secret societies, spy networks and crime syndicates to take over the world. Truly there are some righteous Chinese, but as a nation they are fascistic Asian Hitlers & Nazis. China is Gog & Magog of the Anti-Christ Army. In fact till today Chinese themselves call the Great Wall of China, “the Ramparts (Wall) of Gog.

      The above link website also prophesied the Philippines and the Asean, described as the young lions in the Bible (Asean Tigers?), that will object to Red China’s invasion of the U.S. (as punishment because it has became a Godless perverted nation) and much more during these the end times, repent for judgement is near.

      YHWH blessings be upon all who heed his warning.

  8. What justice are we talking about, justice for the the victims of perpetual corruption, or the elites who are being exposed and pursued?

    The poor, depraved pilipinos and the state of our nation is proof of crimes that have been and until now being committed against the country and people, and the perpetrators have been well-known for a long long time. Now that something is being done to rectify this continuous sufferings and real injustice, should we stop it now, because we are hurting the elites?

    Perhaps the “justices/judges who dispense their honorable decisions” for a price, and in english (so that we, the ordinary stupid pinoys can not comprehend the travesty of real justice and twisting of truth), and their elite clients/buyers, can practice their brand of due process and render their superdooper brand of justice somewhere else, not in this country anymore. They can bring along the congressmen and senators with them, might be interesting to observe their interactions.