Aquino: President of and for the oligarchs


Never in the Philippines’ post-war history have we had a President so representative of and servile to the oligarchy. President Aquino has shamelessly demonstrated again and again that the oligarchs are really his “boss,” not the masses. His motto that the Filipino people are the “boss” is really just a figment of his speechwriters’ imagination.

President Aquino’s Administration is the best illustration of that Marxist notion of the state as simply the executive committee of the ruling class. His anointed – Manuel Araneta Roxas – is as much an offspring of oligarchs as Aquino is.

I had thought that Aquino missed the second anniversary of the commemoration of the Yolanda Typhoon and secluded himself in his room probably playing an X-box game with his nephew Josh, as he couldn’t bear to be on the same stage as the Romualdezes and Marcos in Tacloban.

It turns out I gave him too much credit.

He was absent at this year’s commemoration rites (as he also was last year) for the tragedy that killed more than 8,000 Filipinos in 2013 and made life miserable for millions of Filipinos, because he attended the wedding of the son of property tycoon Andrew Tan. (I wonder: If American Presidents charge exorbitant fees for speaking engagements and appearances in events to raise campaign funds, is there a Filipino version of that?)

Owner of the Megaworld property conglomerate, Tan has become famous in the global liquor industry as the magnate from a capital-deficient, poor country who has been on a buying binge in Europe in the past three years.

He bought 1,000 hectares of vineyards in Spain, 100 percent of the Spanish brandy maker, Bodega San Bruno for P3 billion, and 50 percent of Bodega Las Copas for P3.7 billion. Last year he bought the United Kingdom’s iconic Scottish Scotch whisky-maker Whyte & Mackay for US$720 million (P34 billion). Would you believe the owner of the P85-per-liter Emperador brandy outbid the owners of Remy Martin, Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Absolut Vodka and Campari? That’s the kind Aquino prefers rubbing elbows with, rather than weeping widows in Tacloban.

Different social calendars during the second anniversary of the ‘Yolanda’ tragedy. (Above, at extreme right is property and liquor magnate Tan)

Different social calendars during the second anniversary of the ‘Yolanda’ tragedy. (Above, at extreme right is property and liquor magnate Tan)

That’s laissez faire capitalism of course, the kind that had been banned in the Tiger Economies when they were still taking off, so they could channel scarce capital to strategic, local industries.

Such weddings by the elite are scheduled a year in advance. That there would be a second commemoration of the Yolanda tragedy was a given. He could have even asked Tan to reschedule the wedding, which after all, was in the church located in a property at his Newport City, which he donated. He didn’t.

Either this president is so stupid to realize the messages his actions send as elected President of the Republic, or he really wants to boast that he is the President of and for oligarchs in this country. There is a unique Philippine word for that frame of mind, which the English translation doesn’t quite capture: “Ipinangangalandakan.”

It is the second time that Aquino preferred to be in an event in the presence of the oligarchy, rather than in communion with the ordinary Filipino people. The first was last year when the government received in the Philippine capital the bodies of the 44 Special Action Force troopers massacred by Islamic insurgents in Mamasapano.

Snubbed solemn event

Aquino snubbed that solemn event, and instead, preferred to grace the ribbon-cutting party for the Japanese Mitsubishi Motor Philippines car assembly plant in Sta. Rosa.

It wasn’t even a new plant. Mitsubishi transferred its Cainta plant to the former location of Ford Philippines, which the US-based automobile company left (for Indonesia) two years ago. And why did Mitsubishi decide to transfer its plant? Because its Cainta property would be developed into a new business district to rival the Ortigas center. Who will develop it? Ayala Land, owned by one of the closest supporters of Aquino, the oligarch Ayala clan.

I googled and wracked my brain to recall if there has been any event in which Aquino demonstrated he is one with the masses in a moment of their suffering. Other than that event in which he met with relatives of the 44 SAF heroes to mitigate the public outrage that he snubbed the Villamor arrival of the bodies, I couldn’t find any. Has he even addressed an assembly of major trade federation, or an assembly of peasants or urban poor? No.

For a president who epitomizes the Philippine oligarchy, or at least that faction that emerged from the extremely exploitative sugar industry to move into modern business and politics, he would have tried to show that he isn’t just the spoiled scion of the oligarchy.

He hasn’t. When our press and our academe would have awakened from their intoxication drinking yellow Kool-Aid, they’d write articles and history books about the shocking plot by Aquino to wrench billions of pesos as government payment for his clan’s turnover of Hacienda Luisita by removing the Chief Justice.

But what’s wrong with being among the oligarchs, which my built-in Microsoft Word dictionary defines as “very rich businessmen with a great deal of political influence?”

Everything that is really wrong with this country. It is neither corruption nor a weak state, nor neocolonialism that explains why our country has been and will be poor. It’s our entrenched oligarchy, and their control of the state.

Almost every academic book analyzing why some countries are rich and some are poor describes the Philippines as a country ruled by oligarchs, and that has been the reason for its economic and political quagmire:

Francis Fukuyama in his best selling 2014 book Political Order and Political Decay:

“By exporting the nineteenth century US model of a government of ‘courts and parties” to the Philippines, the United States permitted the growth of a landed oligarchy that continues to dominate that country.”


Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira also in a best selling book writes: Globalisation and Competition, Why Some Emergent Countries Succeed while Others Fail:

“With large land-owning families that have had a stronghold on the state, the Philippines is more like some Latin American countries.”

Ming Wan in The Political Economy of East Asia (2008:)

“The reason (for the Philippines’ poor economic results to this day) is the dominance of oligarchic, landowning families that have captured the state to advance their own interests. Put simply, oligarchy defines the Philippine political economy system. By contrast, the central government is weak because civil servants are beholden to their political patrons outside the bureaucracy.” (My emphasis)

Even a book focusing on a particular industry couldn’t help asserting:

“To this day in the Philippines, economic and political power is vested in the hands of a small number of powerful family dynasties and coalitions, with 10 percent of Philippine households, dominated by Spanish and Chinese mestizos, holding 32.1 percent of household expenditures. (Telecommunications Politics: Ownership and Control of the Information Highway in Developing Countries Information [2009]).”

Such a serious, rigorous academic as Wan wasn’t fooled by the yellow narratives the US State Departments’ operatives popularized in 1986:

“The Aquino ‘People Power’ revolution did not fundamentally reform the country as triumphant street demonstrators had hoped for. Aquino’s victory was not a true revolution as many had thought but a return to the dominance of the powerful provincial families. Being from one of the wealthiest land-owning families herself, Aquino did not push the land reform hard. It did not help that Aquino exempted her 6,000-hectare family estate.” (In case you think Wan is a Chinese propagandist, he is professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University in Virginia. His Ph.D. was from the Government Department, Harvard University.”

That the economy has grown under Aquino is indisputable, even as it is due to two things: (1) his predecessor President Arroyo’s success in weathering the 2008-2009 global economic crisis, which was the worst in post-war world history, that convinced global investors of our economic resilience; and (2) unlike the terms of other Presidents, there has been no major world economic crisis since 2010.

Yet, Philippine economic growth has only meant the expansion of the Filipino billionaires’ wealth. There has been no increase in workers real – or inflation-adjusted – wages. Outside of the government’s statistical hocus-pocus, poverty in the country has worsened since 2010.

Other than the conditional cash program – a massive dole-out scheme which is actually the biggest vote-buying scheme ever invented in this country – Aquino has neither undertaken any new program to improve the economic structure nor redistribute wealth.

Why, in Aquino’s mind, should he join the people of Tacloban and miss the wedding of the son of the country’s biggest property billionaires?


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  1. Baligod Sherwin on

    The observations of Mr. Tiglao is accurate and appropriate. One that surmise the current administration similar with the behavior of the previous administration that Tiglao was also a part. Both Arroyo and Aquino are anti-poor regimes. I can’t recall any instance where Tiglao denounced the malpractices and bad deeds of the Arroyo’s. He is doing it with Aquino since it was very comfortable for him to do so.

    Mr. Tiglao, don’t be a practitioner of double standards. Denounce bad because it is bad. But of course, how could you have a freedom to go against the Arroyos when you also benefited from them?

  2. It is not easy to understand how countries rise and how they fall. What Filipinos need to understand is that for the last 400 years, western Europe and the US have controlled 80% of the worlds economy and third world nations had to share whatever is left of the 20%. It has always been this way until the western powers have decided to allow Japan a taste of that wealth some 70 years ago that enabled Japan to become a part of that exclusive group.

    Some 20 years or so ago China, India and S Korea were allowed access to that wealth. China, as we know it have done so much more. It has produced the most billionaires, it was able to bring manufacturing to their backyard and controlled it, and in that time period have reversed that exclusive 80 – 20 wealth distribution that the US and Europe enjoyed for centuries and moved that wealth to Asia and become a new military power in so short a time. For the first time in 400 years, the wealth distribution have shifted to Asia with 60%, the US and Europe with only 35% and the remaining 5% is left for countries of Africa and Latin America.

    James Wolfensohn, former World Bank president said that it was a tectonic shift that shocked the financial world nobody imagined it would ever happen in their lifetime. The Philippines, according to WB estimates will become the 14th largest economy by the year 2034.

  3. Maybe this so called oligarchs are more smarter than us Lumad pinoys. Ordinary pinoys save much of their hard earn money just to buy goods from oligarchs business likes mobile phones and other gadgets for showy purposes.

    I mean we Lumad pinoys are not business minded people, we are consumer minded being abused by these oligarchs (paid less, work more). Someone said, that Lumad pinoys parents send their kids to school to be a obedient good employer, while these Mistisos oligarchs are sending their kids to school to be a good business man one day and dominates us and make us more poorer.

  4. The image of our country Philippines is beyond repair, absolutely tarnished with graft and corruption. Foreign investors shunned away because to put up business here is VERY difficult, too many hassles for one main reason and that is too many fees requirements. That’s why foreign investors suggested to us to change the spelling of the country to PAYLIPPINES. Each time you move, you PAY including the people who process the necessary docs.

  5. ang tuwid niyang daan ay tuwad
    iyong “sobrang bigas” na sinabi noong first SONA ay wala ring nangyari; kay arroyo, Php35 ang pinakamahal na bigas; kay pnoy, Php35 ang pinakamura
    ano na ang nangyari sa smuggled na sugar na balita 2 wks ago?
    dito sa amin sa valenzuela, mas maraming Php250 a day factory workers; siyempre, di aasikasuhin ni pnoy ang problemang ito. valenzuela is dominated by the gatchalian brothers, mga tsinoy, ano pa ba ang maaasahan natin. ang pinas ay di para sa mga pinoy, unfortunately. pinas is for tsinoys (cojuangco is co juan, nuno nila)

  6. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    11 November 2015

    For all his exceptional intelligence and those of such writers as Francis Fukuyama [who is the author of the well-read book,”The End of History”], former Ambassador RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO, could only put his finger down on the OLIGARCHY as at the root of the country’s economic and social malaise.

    The fact of the matter is that it is only ONE of a triumvirate of pathologies that should be held responsible: the other two are the POLITICOS and the CLERICS.

    For the last sixty years or so since the country gained its “independence” in 1946, the Philippines has been held tightly in the vise-like grip of a PLUTOCRATIC-POLITICO-CLERICO CONSPIRACY whose overarching Agenda is to perpetuate itself in wealth and power, the better to manipulate and exploit the Filipino people.

    A good analogy is France of the 18th Century which likewise, for centuries in fact, was held in the vise-like grip of a ROYAL-ARISTOCRATIC-CLERICO CONSPIRACY whose overarching agenda was to manipulate and exploit the people, in the process reducing them to the servile status of SERFS–until that fateful day in July of 1789 when the people of Paris, hungry and in rags, stormed the Bastille, triggering the Revolution of 1789.


  7. What EDSA I did was not restoring democracy but restoring PLUTARCHY, a government controlled by the plutocrats and oligarchs. It is almost thirty years now since the yellow horde wrested power and what have we got? Where were South Korea, Singapore and China thirty years ago and where are they now? And where is the Philippines. After Thirty years, debilitating poverty, crime and corruption! Ten percent of its population are working outside the country as OFWs, from domestic helpers to doctors and engineers! I feel so sad not for myself, but for the coming generations who would be as hopeless as we are now.

  8. Alicia G. Belen on

    Hinde naman imbitado si President Aquino..alangan naman mag pa epal sa diyan pakitang tao lamang…san huwag naman mag sulat nang mga false and misleading information. god bless you Mr. tiglao

  9. I left for the States when I was old enough to understand the political landscape of our country. Sad to say, not much have changed. Sadly, it seemed that it has gotten even worse for the everyday kababayan. That was 25 years ago. The key to change is understanding. Educate the next generation about our countries past mistakes, make them want change..make them want to be better than us. Politics does not have to be complicated and for the few. It was meant to serve the people…all the people.

  10. With the continuing policy of the government, all the more this current administration of producing more OFWs instead of crafting policies to encourage local employment, the Oligarchs have really raked in big time. Its more of the rich capitalizing on the poor especially on the OFWs from establishing more money remittance centers, call cards and promos on calls abroad and net surfing for families to communicate here and abroad, more shopping malls for money remmited from abroad to spend on, all of which hardly provides more local employment but instead squeezing the poor of their hard earned income not to mention the suffering of being away from your family.

  11. Yes I agree to everything about this very well written article of Mr. Tiglao. However, just think twice if not thrice about voting for binay, someone very credible informed me that he is the real candidate of the yellow empire as concocted by teir US spinmasters. Just be careful, monitor closely the SC and other agencies.

  12. The problem now, how can we stop oligarchy dominance if they employ a lot of masses and middle classes? How? Don’t vote for LP and then, Vote BBM who has a vision to reform DOLE and DOTC, the income tax and the contractualization for a start. We may beign with these….because these have a significant factor in the anti-poor annd inconvenience to the working class Filipinos…

  13. Could the fact that Philippines is also under the thumb of World bank/IMF-which dictates much of the laws and regulations a country must impose on it’s population-come into play? Afterall, as seen with other “leaders” they become arrogant and indifferent-knowing that they hold little real power? I agree with this article-just expanding on it by asking a question.Hope more informed people out there could help out on this….ThankYou

  14. Abnoy, Aquino is the worst,the most incompetent and stupid President in Philippine history. Good thing, I never voted for him in the 2010 elections. We will all be happy if he will be put into hospital arrest after his term and confined at the National Center for Mental Health.

  15. President Ferdinand E. Marcos was ahead of his time. He dismantled the land ownership of the oligarchy and distributed them to government employees and the squatters in Mentro Manila.

    And the oligarchy was scared. their land or corporation would be the next, FM had to be toppled down. When he was gone, the oligarchy was back in power, exploiting our poor with an indecent minimum wage and tolerated by the DOLE.

    But then again, Justice does not always operate in November, next year, etc. THE LORD who is JUSTICE HIMSELF knows the perfect time when to wage HIS vengeance. Since the helpless are dismissed, tucked away for APEC, or used to get funds from foreign governments we pray that THE LORD intervene and EL ELYON be our HELP. Psalm 27, The Bible

  16. I will say : “Nothing doing” to the idea of abnoy to follow the “Tuwid na Daan” slogan. He believes he can lure still the electorate? Don’t dare apply hoodwinking ways via the PCOS. It had better be the people’s will or a revolt/coup would eventuate in 2016.

  17. The term used in the internet is KLEPTOLIGARCHS. These kleptos are getting richer everyday at our expense. According to the yellow dogma, all kleptos deserve to hang, don’t they?

  18. Sa mukha pa lang ng gagong NOYTARD ay DEMONYO na.Walang ginawa ang gago kundi maghiganti,manisi at magpabaya sa halip na asikasuhin ang para sa kapakanan ng masa.Sa tulong ng mga yellow survey firms at yeloow media gaya ng inquirer na hawak ng mga oligarko/kaanak ni ABNOY ay nabobola nila ang mga pilipino.

  19. I don’t want to vote for Roxas because I don’t want Korina Sanchez to be the first lady. I don’t want to vote Grace Poe since she always uses FPJ in her campaigns as she claims, “Ipagpapatuloy ko ang ginawa ni FPJ.” I think I’ll choose between Miriam or Binay, all politicians are corrupt, its just that Binay returns money to the poor through his activities. Maybe Duterte if he runs.

  20. This should be translated into different pinoy dialects and be published and circulated around the country. This is to allow every Filipino to get aware of what is really happening n the country. Poor is the Philippines so are the Filipinos for being run by Oligarchs….

  21. BS Aquino III is indeed a President of the people, by the people and for the people who control the lives and the future of the rest of the Filipino people! Tama na! Sobra na! Paalisin at ikulong na!

  22. Peter Gonzales on

    The only way to redress the grievances of the Filipino people against Abnoy is to put him in jail for the rest of his life and that includes Abad, Abaya, Drilon, Belmonte, Roxas and the rest of his cabinet.

  23. The oligarch get richer everyday,it’s true,WHY? Here we have uncontrolled birth rate,population boom,sadly,most newborn are the lower income people,the poor,the more babies,the rich are happiest.WHY? The daily needs of this poor people ,such as toothpaste,soap,pan de sal.etc,ARE MOSTLY MADE BY THIS OLIGARCH FAMILY,.THEY SEE IT AS ECONOMIC BOOM,THIS IS THE REALITY OF OUR COUNTRY,many indigents,underpaid workers,yet stupid,they succumb to the bugle call of the elite,gets bribed in the election,NOBODY TO BLAME,BUT US

  24. I suspect that the security people of pnoy must have advised against his going to Tacloban it would be Dangerous to his well being. But that’s to be expected for such a blundering idiot for a president it is actually so obvious even a dumb and dumber gangmate like his defense Secretary will see it di ba.

  25. We should not forget; we should not forgive; we should all be united not to vote for all PeNoy’s annointed ones.

  26. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The Filipinos have been fooled to think that the mother and son were liberators from corrupt regimes which is not so. For the very reason that to the present it is only the allies, the top ten percent made up of mestizos and chinoys, are ruling the economic game. Corruption has expanded during the mother’s rule reaching as far down the barangays. The present crop of alter-egos and KKK’s made up of the Hyatt 10 are lording it over the use of the unconstitutional DAP and PDAP. Just look at their lifestyles before 2010 and contrast them with the present. The culture of the Filipinos is heavily damaged. God bless the Philippines.

  27. Yes, That is correct as I have said over and over again we have a president who was maker of the most number of Dollar Billionaires listed in the Forbes Magazine they are mestizos, chinese or kastila. They are employers that hired employees as contractual, many of their middle level employee are paid less than their counterpart in the government unlike their 3rd level employees and managers are paid extremely high.
    Now, the said so called Dollar Billionaires are the no. 1 priorities in financing their big ticket priority projects you name it they are there that is the kind of legacy this president will leave when his term expired on June 30. They are in the priority lanes during the time of the late Cory and continuining to this very day.
    The mother and son forget what Ninoy have been espousing in his one of famous speeches, that if he has his way the oligarchs priority in financing will be channeled for investment geared towards industrialization, steel mills that produces high quality steels for mechanized farming, shipbuilding and etc.
    Now, I suspect that Ninoy even though he founded CPP/NPA that wrought havoc to our country’s progress economically was assassinated by conspirators maybe those who have interest in the country’s businesses. I do not know, why despite Cory and Noynoy ascended to the Presidency the suspects still out there.
    I suspect that this was done to point finger to the Marcoses. I am only asking as a plain citizen

  28. Any self-respecting leader knows that you put duty above self-interest, and do what it is right, even if you do not want to. The coward runs away, or hides under the bed, instead of being a man.

    Unfortunately Pnoy Aquino has no class or standards, and will always be regarded as inferior by the working class, and blackballed by the upper class. He is tolerated because of his position as president, but despised for his inability to lead by example, or to be a unifier.
    Aquino is like the irksome little boy at school who shadowed the headboy or team captain, hoping to bask in the reflected glory of some-one else, but incapable of achieving on his own.

    It is typical of aquino to go and enjoy the pomp and frivolity of a wedding rather than show respect at a memorial.

    The thousands who have died under aquino’s rule – civilians, soldiers, journalists, lumads, hacienda luista workers – are as inconsequential to pnoy aquino as one of his discarded shooting targets.

    “The death-knell of the republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought , not to do justice to all citizens , rich and poor alike , but just to support one special class and its interests, as opposed to the interests of all” .
    – Theodore Roosevelt

  29. Yet, Philippine economic growth has only meant the expansion of the Filipino billionaires’ wealth. There has been no increase in workers real – or inflation-adjusted – wages. Outside of the government’s statistical hocus-pocus, poverty in the country has worsened since 2010.

    Other than the conditional cash program – a massive dole-out scheme which is actually the biggest vote-buying scheme ever invented in this country – Aquino has neither undertaken any new program to improve the economic structure nor redistribute wealth.




  30. The Philippines has almost similar history and setup of society as the Central America. Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador and Mexico are all controlled by Oligarchs (Mostly Hacienderos). They were lucky their country were never in the Second World War.

    • Palawan Continental Block on

      …pero Doy, yung pinagkaiba nila, lalo na ng Nicaragua at El Salvador, is that the people have driven away these masters both through revolution and liberal democracy. Google “Pink Tide Nicaragua”. As long as yung interes ng mga neocolonisador at mga oligarko-dinastiya ay magkatugma, mananatili tayong gapos sa loob ng liberal democracy na ito na itinayo para sa kanilang mga interes.

  31. Juat to ahow his true colors! HE MUST PAY FOR HIS BLUNDERS. Just waiting for his time to step down from presidency.

  32. This is a very well writ article. I just want to say that I hope you dont stop writing until the blindfold that the yellow plague has put upon our countrymen has been removed.

  33. The ‘annoying’ insensitivity of this sitting president to more important events as head of state is aptly called “Noy-noying”; meaning “donker-donker”!

  34. Our country’s wealth will only distributed equally if there will be a president and other politicians who wouldn’t be beholden to those few oligarchs who own the Philippines.

  35. it’s not surprising that Noynoy is absent during the 2nd anniversary of Yolanda typhoon’s devastation of Tacloban. As what columnist Marlen Ronquillo wrote years ago, Noynoy is allergic of bad news.

    • Ano po ang problema?
      If you have read the article, malalaman nyo po.

      I voted for PNoy last 2010, pero simula nung mahalal syang pangulo, nagsimula ng lumabas ang totoo nyang Kulay.


  36. I prefer the picture of Binay/Marcos/Honasan uniting together. May Malasakit sa kapwa tao! We must move forward this coming election and remove the Strangle hold of BSAquino and his Oligarchs!