'Dismantling oligarchy' means fewer dynasties, stronger parties — Drilon

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
'Dismantling oligarchy' means fewer dynasties, stronger parties � Drilon
File photo shows Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte's claim of "dismantling the oligarchy" can only be brought about by "structural reform and an overhaul of existing laws that allowed oligarchy to persist."

Drilon further cautioned that without such reforms, the unseating of oligarchs would only make room for cronies.

Oligarchs, originally a Russian term, refers to a small group of people in control of a country or government. Meanwhile, cronyism is the practice of appointing friends and associates to positions of authority regardless of qualifications.

"As part of the political reform to prevent oligarchy, maybe we should look at our political party system, because that is not helpful. Our present system cannot be cited as a check on oligarchs," the senator said.

Drilon authored Senate Bill Nos. 11 and 12 which seek "to prohibit political dynasties" and "to strengthen the political party system in the country and discourage political turncoatism," respectively.

He added that the president enjoys enough political influence to push for the passage the anti-political dynasty law at the House of Representatives and that he would be "willing to work with the administration to review the current system and enact measures that can prevent all forms of oligarchy."

RELATED: Poe says stronger institutions, media needed amid House's junking of ABS-CBN franchise bid

However, he also flagged the fact that Duterte's own family is a political clan. 

Three of the president's children currently hold elected positions: Rep. Paolo Duterte, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte.

"It is not in wealth that you are an oligarch; you are an oligarch if you use your power to promote through the political system your own interest," Drilon said.

According to "Political Dynasties in the Philippines: Persistent Patterns, Perennial Problems", a paper by Political Science professor Teresa Encarnacion Tadem, PhD and Asian Studies professor Eduardo Tadem, political dynasties "[monopolize political power and public offices from generation to generation and treating the public elective office almost as their personal property."

The Tadems noted that, after the 2013 midterm elections, "all 80 provinces have political families and 74% of the members of the House of Representatives come
from political families."

'Neutrality' on ABS-CBN issues

In a speech delivered to the military on Monday, the president claimed that he had successfully unseated the small circle of people sitting atop the Philippine economy.

"That's why, for me, if I die, if my plane crashes, putangina. I am very happy. You know why? I said, without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controls the economy of the Filipino people," he told troops in a mix of English and Filipino at Jolo, Sulu.

The pre-taped speech was aired on Tuesday morning, but the Inquirer and Rappler on Wednesday reported that about ten minutes of the address had been cut.

Among the comments. made in Filipino, cut from the aired address were: "ABS-CBN smeared me but I said, if I win, I will unseat the oligarchy in the Philippines." 

Duterte said this mere days after an overwhelming 70 legislators at the House panel on legislative franchises voted to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise. The move imperils the livelihoods of thousands of media workers.

All other instances of the president mentioning ABS-CBN were cut from the aired speech, Rappler reported.

Immediately after the controversial House committee vote and in the days following, presidential spokesman Harry Roque has continued to insist that the chief executive was "neutral" on the issue of the embattled network's franchise bid.

Duterte had issued emphatic threats throughout 2019 to shut down ABS-CBN for its alleged biased coverage and for failing to air all his election campaign ads in 2016.

"They pretend they have an investment there. They will send money there. But that investment is no longer there. The money won't come back. That's why it's not taxed. And to think that they talk and they play God over the lives of the Filipino," was another comment made by the president in Filipino, referring to ABS-CBN, which was redacted from the aired version of the speech.

READ: Insisting on ABS-CBN's debunked 'violations' is disinformation from Congress — nat'l network

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig), the president's political ally and running mate in 2016, used very similar language to the president's on Monday when he defended the widely criticized move to reject the network's franchise bid, saying it was about "reclaiming patrimony from the oligarchs."

"We simply put an end to the privilege of one family in using a public resource to protect and promote their private interest was part of the changes that the Duterte administration has vowed to bring to the country," he said in a Facebook post.

Cayetano's wife is also a member of the House of Representatives as congresswoman for a sepatae legislative district. His sister is a senator and a brother is mayor of Taguig. 

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