Duterte hits Lopez Holdings for ‘debt’ to government

Pia Ranada
Duterte hits Lopez Holdings for ‘debt’ to government
Lopez Holdings, formerly called Benpres Holdings, is owned by the Lopez family which runs ABS-CBN network – a target of President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte widened his net of companies to crack down on during a speech on Wednesday, August 30.

He named Benpres Holdings Corporation, now known as Lopez Holdings Corporation, as being among the companies which owe money to the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“I will not name the person but their companies before, Benpres, and about 6 other companies, have debts with the DBP,” Duterte said while speaking to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) personnel.

Lopez Holdings Corporation is the publicly listed holding company of the Lopez Group of Companies, founded by Eugenio Lopez Sr. It is the parent company of multimedia conglomerate ABS-CBN Corporation and First Philippine Holdings Corporation, which has interests in power, property, and manufacturing.

“They use the people’s money to finance their business but they keep the earnings, and yet they were not able to pay and it was condoned by government,” said Duterte.

The DBP had granted millions of pesos worth of loans to Benpres and other Lopez-owned companies but eventually these were written off.

According to an Inquirer opinion piece, companies that belonged to the Lopez Group were given a total of P1.6 billion worth of loans.

The President previously threatened to file estafa charges against ABS-CBN for supposedly not airing his political advertisements in 2016 when his camp had already paid for them. (READ: Duterte’s ace against ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ biggest network)

He also accused them of being biased in their reporting.

It seems he had this in mind during his Wednesday speech.

“Malakas ‘yan sila mag-atake (They are aggressive in attacking), they have the media outlets and all, but they are taking advantage of the corruption in government. They don’t want to pay taxes, don’t want to pay debts,” said Duterte.

The populist president promised his audience he would crack down on the wealthy who skirt laws.

“I will go after the elite of this country because they are the ones really benefiting from all of these things,” he said. (READ: Duterte tirade ‘part and parcel’ of media work – Gabby Lopez– Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.