President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday vehemently denied that he has started his own brand of cronyism in the country during his watch.
Duterte made the clarification in a speech delivered in Pigcawayan, Cotabato, as he once again criticized the country’s oligarchs.
“Maraming daldal, mga mayayaman na interesado, ibigay ni Duterte iyan sa crony niya. Wala akong crony (Many interested oligarchs are claiming that ‘Duterte would give that to his crony.’ I don’t have crony),” Duterte said.
“May girlfriends ako. Crony, wala ako. Walang silbi, hindi ko mayakap yung mga buang na iyan. Ang akin, girlfriend. Wala akong crony (I have girlfriends. Crony, I have none. Cronies are useless. I cannot hug those fools. I only have girlfriend, not crony),” he said in jest as he spoke before the farmers.
On Dec. 4, 2019, Nikkei’s contributing writer, Aurora Almendral, wrote an article that claimed the President vowed to “destroy the Philippine’s elite” because he “chose his own.”
The Nikkei report, titled “Crony capital: How Duterte embraced the oligarchs,” said during the presidential campaign, Duterte took aim at the “corruption and excesses of wealth-hoarding families” like the Ongpin clan.
The report, however, claimed that Duterte’s three years in office showed that the systemic transformation has turned out to be “more like a personal vendetta.”
Labor groups have also seen Duterte’s threat against two water firms Manila Water and Maynilad, as well as local broadcast network ABS-CBN, as part of his alleged plan to favor his cronies.
Duterte, however, said he considered Manila Water and Maynilad as “big fishes” that take advantage of their consumers.
“Marami akong problema, may mga walang hiya, itong mga water concessionaire. (I have many problems. These water concessionaires are shameless),” he said.
He has repeatedly slammed water firms Manila Water and Maynilad due to the supposed “onerous” provisions included in their present deals with the government.
On Tuesday, he said the two concessionaires can only either accept the new water contract drafted by the government or face cancellation of the existing water deals.
In his latest speech, Duterte also took a swipe at Isidro Consunji, a shareholder of Maynilad and chair of DMCI Holdings Inc., after the latter reacted to the President’s tirades against the two water companies.
On Wednesday, Consunji said he could not understand where Duterte is coming from because the previous water concession contract was not drafted by the private sector.
Duterte lamented that Consunji had the time to comment on the latest issue on water, while the latter has a problem with the Ecoland 4000 condominium in Davao City that collapsed after a powerful quake in October 2019. The condominium was built by a DMCI subsidiary.
“Noong isang araw, nag-salita siya about concession sa water. Sabi ko, ikaw may problema ka, unahin mo ang problema sa tao (The other day, he talked about the water concession deal. I said, you have a problem with other people, fix it first),” he said.
“Que builder ka, Consunji ka man o hindi, kapag naasar ako sa’yo (If you are a builder, either you are Consunji or not, if I get pissed), I will not grant you any permit you to dig,” Duterte added.
OK with oligarchs with ‘social conscience’
Duterte said one of the pressing problems in the country is the existence of “shameless” oligarchs.
He said the rich usually choose their preferred presidential candidate for their own benefit.
“Tayong mahihirap wala tayong problema. Ang problema dito sa Pilipinas ngayon, yung mga mayayaman (The poor have no problem. The problem here in our country now is the oligarchs),” he said.
“Hindi ako galit sa mga mayayaman but usually or historically, it has always been the oligarch, yung sa taas, mamili sila ng Presidente na kandidato. ‘Pag nandoon na, puro pabor, pabor, pabor (I’m not mad at rich people but usually or historically, it has always been the oligarchs who choose their presidential bet. If elected, they always ask for a favor),” he added.
He, however, made it clear that everything is well with the rich who have “social conscience.”
“Kaya ang may problema sa Pilipinas sa panahon ko, yung mga mayayaman na walang hiya. Kayong mga mayayaman na you know, you have the social conscience, wala kayong problema sa akin (The problem in the Philippines under my watch is the shameless oligarchs. Those rich who have a social conscience, you have no problem with me),” he said. (PNA)