The Rufinos, through an Inquirer editorial, could drastically change our political culture

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

THE Court of Appeals’ Fifth Division, in a decision penned by Justice Jose Reyes, has ruled against junking the legalistic move of the Rufino family, the controlling stockholders of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), to prevent government from recovering the prime 22.6-hectare Mile Long property in Makati.*

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The property, which contains more than 400 establishments and is valued at least P30 billion, has been controlled by the Rufinos since 1978, and even after its lease expired 14 years ago in 2002. Government has claimed that from that year to 2015, the Rufinos have not paid its rentals to government totaling P1.8 billion.

The Rufinos, of course, could decide to fight government and hold on to the state’s property, which they have been unable to justify their continued control of. They could, with their highly paid lawyers and through our problematic justice system, slow down the legal process, and hope that a new administration would reverse President Duterte’s audacious move to get back what is government’s, despite their political clout through their powerful newspapers.

Or the Rufinos could be magnanimous, and draw from their wellspring of patriotism and change our political culture—by cooperating with government.

The PDI’s coffee-table anniversary book for its 30th anniversary was entitled The Inquirer Story: 30 Years of Shaping History. While there are those who would see that as a somewhat doubtful boast, the Rufinos, at this time when their liabilities to government have been exposed, could actually shape our history, by ordering a PDI editorial written that would be something as follows:

“Our chairman Marixi Rufino Prieto in her speech at the 30th anniversary of the newspaper in 2015 said: ‘For 30 years, we mustered the courage to express the ills of society, courage to be the voice of the powerless, courage to stand our ground, no matter how unpopular it is. With our loyal readers, we had courage to endure pressure and courage to ride the tides of change.’

THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO BE HEROES Inquirer’s controlling owners, clan patriarch Carlos Rufino (left), chair Marixi Rufino-Prieto (center) and husband Alejandro Prieto.

Today we are mustering such courage–even if it entails huge financial costs to the Rufino family, the controlling stockholder of this newspaper—to demonstrate our commitment to building a nation by abandoning all efforts to prevent government from recovering the Mile Long property which we have used and generated huge revenues from since 1978.

Rather than tying down government’s scarce legal resources, we will cooperate with the National Government to determine how much we fairly owe government as unpaid rentals for the property.

We are also committing to cooperate with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to settle the alleged P1.5 billion tax liabilities of a firm we own, Dunkin’ Donuts.

We hope that this decision of ours will send a message to the upper classes of our society, that blessed as we are financially and owners of powerful assets, we have a huge responsibility to build our nation and its state that enforces the rule of law, regardless of the economic status of a violator.

The histories of our rich neighbors in Asia incontrovertibly show that their economies developed in the very short span of a generation because their elites were willing to build a strong state invulnerable to their selfish agendas, and to moderate their greed so that the benefits of the economy’s growth are spread more equitably.

The tax system has been proven in many countries to be a powerful means of redistributing wealth in an inequitable society. We the rich however have been able to evade paying the right taxes because of our access to the best tax lawyers in the country and because of corruption in the BIR.

We also take this occasion to appeal to our partner in the Inquirer, ultimately controlled by the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim and represented by Manuel V. Pangilinan, to respect the Constitution’s ban on foreign participation in media companies and sell their holdings to entirely Filipino entities. For the same reason, we call on Mr. Salim to divest his indirect holdings in the Philippine Star, Business World, TV-5 and the rest of his dozen media outfits.

It is a disgrace to the nation and to our Press that we have allowed ourselves to have such foreign holdings, something none of our nationalist and proud Asian neighbors have done.”

Such a move by the Rufinos, announced through an Inquirer editorial, would make them heroes, revered in our history, even the richest of heroes as they certainly wouldn’t be impoverished by giving up Mile Long and paying Dunkin Donuts’ right taxes. It would start to change our existing political culture by which elites see the Philippines not as their nation, but simply a huge market to exploit.

It would inspire our government, especially the courts and the BIR, to enforce strictly the laws and not to be used by the elites.

The other alternative of course would be to defy and fight Duterte, and hope that as in the case of President Estrada who also went against the PDI, he is toppled in just two years.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

*See Manila Times, June 21, 2017, “Appeals court rules vs Rufinos, Prietos in ‘Mile Long’ case”.

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17 Comments

  1. Judging by the way they have conducted themselves, morally and politically, all these years, they WILL NOT SETTLE and instead FIGHT. It’s in their DNA……

  2. I think this time around will be different while President Duterte, is still around. Erap, was kick out because he was also one of the corrupt politicians. It only happened in our country that this things is being manipulated or abused by powerful people. This had to end one way or another.

  3. Marshall Laway on

    I want to see the Prietos, Marcoses, Cojuangcos, Arroyos, and other oligarchs start paying what they owe the government in terms of taxes. Perhaps they would do that if our thieving politicians repent and start surrendering their ill-gotten wealth. What about that, President Duterte?

  4. The Great Defiant on

    what a shame….and Dunkin Donuts also is not paying 1.3 billion in taxes to the Government.

    Remember those names and faces…

    • if i correctly remember, the bir examiner who issued the the P1.3B assessment to dunkin donuts was fired or put in the freezer by kim henares.

  5. Jaime Domingo on

    F. Sionil Jose tells the success story of South Korea of how the Korean economic miracle happen. The one that is responsible is Park Chung-hee. That leader of South Korea told their business people, ‘after 20 years South Korea must be better of economically or I will cut off your heads’. I do not know his exact world but it goes something like that and then I realize that comparing him to Duterte, President Duterte is even being nice. Itong article ni Tiglao na ito masyadong madrama. Dapat dyan sa mga PUTANG-INA na mga yan pugutan ng ulo ng hindi tularan. You want the Philippines to be economically strong after 20 years. Somebody buy a samurai in Japan give it to Duterte as a gift of love. Have Duterte cut-off the heads of these people who is land grabbing and is in control of the number newspaper in the country so that they can continually manipulate us. The problem with us Filipinos is we are too nice. And we think that Duterte is being strict. Well comparing him to Park Chung-hee on my opinion he is not being decisive enough.
    What happen to us after EDSA? We made the Lords of the feudal system Cory and her mongoloid son Noynoy president, let the crooks the Lopez Group of Companies operator of our water and electricity utilities and other government BOT projects, we let the land grabber Prietos owner of the number 1 news paper in the country that is a tabloid and we let other oligarchs of Imperial Manila legally ransack our country. How can those on the lower ranks in government expect them to be honest when the elite in the highest office does their corruption legally like what Cory did by inserting SDO to make her family own legally Hacienda Luisita that made the law tailored made so that they can land grab and the law will protect them in the process. Look at what they are doing they manipulated us for 30 years and when we had the medium ‘social media’ that will give voice to us they said that its fake news while they had been giving us fake news for 30 years now. They said that the Marcoses are thief while land grabbing which is obvious is stealing for the evidence is right before our eyes. Ayan yon Hacienda Luisita at yong 1 mile property sa Makati kitang kita ang laki-laki while the cases in court against the Marcoses are all down-founded as not of the cases evict the Marcoses. They said that Ferdinand Marcos is cruel well at the time of Marcos no such massacre happen like that of Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita Massacre. They are murderers and thief, they even murder their own kind Ninoy. They are cannibals, parasites and worms a kind of pest that eat pus secreted out of wounds that are produce by boils. They are lowest living animal there is. Angels in disguise, zombies, the lowest form of life in Karma…. and please comment on how to further describe how low these people can be best represented.

    • The Great Defiant on

      what? these families are not paying 1.8 billion to the Government,
      can you read it? 1.8 billion pesos.

      are you a taxpayer or are you just a plain ed-yot?

    • omg, may ulterior motive pa si mr tiglao as far as you are concerned. the 2 families owe the gov’t billions of pesos and are holding a property owned by the gov’t without paying the right rent.

  6. The proposed editorial is indeed exceptional but it will remain a dream. These oligarchs have very thick hides that they will not be moved by any call for patriotism or decency.

  7. Estrada’s fight against the Inquirer pictured the then President as the oppressor and the paper an underdog being stepped on by a giant. This time around, Duterte, representing the Philippine government takes the role of the oppressed as the PDI continues to enrich itself at the expense of the government. Estrada was toppled within two years then. Would the PDI close down in the same time frame?

  8. You are joking, of course.

    But I wonder. Such a very serious accusation, made by the President himself, in public at that, should have merited, nay provoked, an indignant response. But Inquirer is all quiet, so very very quiet. For a newspaper which prides itself as an exacting watchdog against wrongdoings in government, a clamorous advocate of uprightness and morality, something’s way, way off.

  9. Topple Duterte? i can’t see it happening. Btw contrary to what some say about the US toppling ERAP, i don’t buy that one bit. That sealed envelope toppled him.

  10. The government must immediately take back the property while Duterte is still in power and alive, and don’t let the Rufinos flout and defy the law. The Rufinos are probably laughing all the way to the bank.