In SONA 2020, Duterte slams Drilon for defending Lopez family

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Within the first few minutes of his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for challenging him to pass the anti-political dynasty law and for defending the Lopez family following the House's denial of ABS-CBN's franchise. 

Duterte also accused Drilon of taking advantage "of a preoccupied government" amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

"In an interview, [Drilon] arrogantly mentioned among others that oligarchs need not be rich. Then, he linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was my daughter and son. This happened after the [House] committee of franchise 70-11 to deny the grant of franchise to ABS-CBN," Duterte said.

The opposition senator on July 15 challenged the president's claim that he had successfully dismantled the oligarchy, saying such change can only be brought about by "structural reform and an overhaul of existing laws that allowed oligarchy to persist."

Duterte, just days after his allies in the House of Representatives carried out his threat to shut down ABS-CBN, celebrated the unseating of the oligarchy in a speech delivered to troops in Jolo, Sulu.

Despite Malacañang's insistence that the president was neutral on the issue of the network's franchise bid, reporters from Inquirer and Rappler later uncovered that the speech aired by the Palace had been edited to remove all mentions of the Lopez family, ABS-CBN and other influential clans.

Following ABS-CBN's franchise denial, Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives have floated using its frequencies for distance learning and imposing further sanctions on the network such as a P1.97 trillion fine and the seizure its headquarters.

"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.

He further cautioned that without institutional 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.

Political dynasties 

"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," Drilon said on July 15.

He 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.

As he pushed for the passage of these bills, Drilon 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.

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."

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