Duterte to go after 7 firms

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte yesterday vowed to go after a Lopez-owned firm and six other companies that allegedly owe debts to the government as he accused their owners of benefiting from corruption.  

He lamented that the government has condoned the debts of Benpres Holdings, which has been renamed Lopez Holdings, and six other companies to state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“I would go after the elite. I will not name the person but their companies then, Benpres and about six other companies, they have debts to the DBP… They used the money of the people to finance their business but they… keep the revenues,” the President said. 

“And yet, they were not able to pay and it was condoned by government,” he added. “I said I would go after the elite in this country because they are really the ones who are benefiting from all of these things.”

The Lopez family also owns broadcast giant ABS-CBN, which has been accused by Duterte of biased reporting. 

He also announced a plan to sell the Mile Long property in Makati to fund the government’s housing program. Mile Long is a property in Makati occupied by Sunvar Realty since 1982.

Sunvar is owned by the Rufino and Prieto families, also the owners of newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer. Duterte has accused the Inquirer of publishing “garbage” stories that were intended to discredit him. 

Duterte claimed the Rufinos and Prietos got the prime lot, which is owned by the National Power Corp., because of sweetheart deals with previous administrations. He has said he wants the two families charged with economic sabotage, a non-bailable offense, for refusing to turn over the property to the government.

The Office of the Solicitor General asked Sunvar to vacate Mile Long this month. The company has complied. The Prietos have also sold their controlling shares in the Inquirer to businessman Ramon Ang, a supporter of the President.

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