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Opinion

The Philippines' wealthiest persons and families

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It has been said that the Philippines is an immensely rich country pretending to be poor, or a nation with so many rich resources but with too many poor people. The truth is that less than one percent of the 110 million Filipinos control 90% of the country's wealth. President Duterte promised to jail a billionaire. The last time I check it is not a crime to be rich. But it is a sin to oppress and exploit the poor.

Out of 110 million Filipinos, more than 65 million are poor, among those are 20 million extremely poor, jobless, homeless, and hopeless. Ninety percent of the country's wealth is in the hands of less than 1% of the population. The long-standing economic disparity is a formula for social conflict, and government continues to face major challenges of maintaining the social compact between the many who are poor and powerless and the few who are too rich and extremely powerful. And those who control the economy also control the political powers. The rich are either in government themselves or are financing electoral campaigns to wield strong influence on public official and agencies. Let us see how the rich are treating the poor.

The children (Hans, Herbert, Harley, Henry Jr., and Teresita Sy-Coson) of Henry Sy (SM, BDO, and Chinabank), who died last year, after maintaining his stature for 11 straight years as the richest man in the Philippines, remain as number one with a combined net worth of $17.2 billion. The far second is Manny Villar (Vistaland, StarMalls, etc.) with $5.6B and they are in government, with Cythia as senior senator, Mark as DPWH secretary, Camille as Las Piñas representative, and the wife of Mark is also in government. The third is John Gokongwei ($5.3B) now in the hands of his children led by Lance; JG Summit, Cebu Pacific, and Robinsons. Number four is Enrique Razon with $5.1B net worth, who is controlling the ports through ICCT. The question is how are these taipans and moguls treating their employees in terms of wages, benefits and welfare?

Number five is Jaime Zobel de Ayala (BPI, Globe Telecom, Manila Water, Ayala Land, Makati Development Co., etc) with $3.7B. Number six is Lucio Tan (PAL, PNB, Asia Brewery, Tanduay, with $3.6B. Number seven is Tony Tan Caktiong (Jollibee and Double Dragon), with $3B. Number 8 is Ramon Ang (San Miguel Corp., Petron, Purefoods, La Tondeña, B-Meg, Eagle Cement, etc.) with $2.8B. Number nine is the Ty siblings, heirs of George Ty of GT Holdings; Arthur, Alfred, Alessandra, and Anjanette, with a combined net worth of $2.7B. Tenth 10 is Andrew Tan, with diversified holdings worth of $2.5B. Tied at number 11 are Eduardo Cojuangco and Robert Coyiuto both at $1.4B each.

Twelfth is Ricardo Po at $1.2B and thirteenth is Roberto Ongpin at $1.1B. For lack of space we cannot put all the top 50 according to Forbes. We just name the more prominent personalities, like number 27 Oscar Lopez of ABS-CBN ($460M); number 28 Edgar Sia of Mang Inasal, Jollibee, and Double Dragon; number 36 Wilfred Uytengsu of General Milling and Alaska, with $240M; number 40 PJ Lhuillier, $208M; number 40 Erramon Aboittiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, $205M; number 46 Felipe Gozon ($145M), and number 50 Menardo Jimenez ($130M) both of Channel 7.

All of these rich Filipinos achieved their wealth through their own business acumen, supplemented by the management expertise of their hired executives and managers. The ultimate test of their business ethics and sense of social responsibility is how they pay their workers, treat them with respect and promote their safety, health, and welfare. Based on these standards, I choose as my top three, Ramon Ang of SMC, the Ayalas of BPI, and the Aboitiz Group. They committed nothing to be jailed for.

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com

WEALTH
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