WHILE President Duterte claims to have successfully dismantled oligarchy in the country, “he has shielded and built up military oligarchs with inordinate patronage,” an opposition leader at the House of Representatives said yesterday.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman dared Duterte to bring down military oligarchs to prove he is sincere in his aim to rid the country of oligarchy.
“If the campaign against the oligarchy is to be sincere, all forms of oligarchy must be dismantled including the favored military oligarchy,” he said. “Oligarchy has many variations and manifestations, the most dangerous of which is the military oligarchy which is backed up by the arsenal of firepower.”
The President, addressing soldiers in Sulu last Monday, described some of the oligarchs as those who exercise their “political powers” especially during elections, those who control the economy, and those who do not pay the right taxes.
Duterte’s pronouncement was made on the heels of a House decision rejecting the bid of media giant ABS-CBN Corp. to have its franchise renewed.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the President was not referring to the Lopezes who own ABS-CBN, but to businessmen Lucio Tan, Manuel Pangilinan, and the Ayalas who have been repeatedly mentioned in previous speeches of Duterte.
Lagman pointed out that the bureaucracy under Duterte is dominated by former officers in uniform, seven of whom are retired chiefs of the Armed Forces like Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, National Irrigation Administration administrator Ricardo Visaya, and Philippine Coconut Authority administrator Benjamin Madrigal Jr.
Duterte’s other appointees with military and police backgrounds include Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Information Secretary Gregorio Honasan, Human Settlements Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Isidro Lapeña, all Cabinet members.
Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim; PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales, National Intelligence Coordination Agency director general Alex Paul Monteagudo, Philippine National Oil Company president and CEO Rueben Lista, PNOC Exploration Corp. director Oscar Ravena; National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Coordinating Council executive director Ricardo Jalad, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources National director Eduardo Gongona, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chairman Allen Capuyan; Clark International Airport Corporation president and CEO Aaron Aquino, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Wilkins Villanueva.
The chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 is former military chief Carlito Galvez Jr., who is concurrent peace adviser.
The current anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings, is under the military-police establishment, Lagman said, adding that the controversial anti-terrorism law is a pet measure of the President’s military advisers.
“To a lesser extent, the militarization of the bureaucracy was also practiced by previous administrations most probably to insulate them from military coups, intervention and adventurism,” he said.