Duterte tags Roberto Ongpin as 'oligarch' he wants to destroy

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte singled out Filipino tycoon Roberto Ongpin as an example of the oligarchs his administration wants to do away with.

"Ang plano talaga is, destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government. 'Yan sila, I'll give you an example, publicly – Ongpin, Roberto," said Duterte on Wednesday, August 3, in front of election volunteers in Malacañang Palace.

(The plan is to destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government. I'll give you an example, publicly – Ongpin, Roberto.)

Ongpin was one of the 50 richest Filipinos in 2015 according to Forbes Magazine. That year, he supposedly boasted a net worth of $900 million.

Last Monday, August 1, the Court of Appeals stopped the Securities and Exchange Commission from enforcing its en banc decision on Ongpin's insider trading case involving Philex Mining Corporation shares in 2009.

The SEC had barred the businessman from joining the board of any publicly listed company, and fined him P174 million for insider trading. Ongpin sits as chairman of two listed firms – PhilWeb Corporation and Atok Big Wedge Incorporated.

Duterte described Ongpin as a businessman close to people in power and implied he used his political influence to strengthen his businesses. Ongpin had been Marcos' trade secretary.

"Malakas kay Marcos, malakas siya and successful. [During the time of] Ramos, he was a hanger-on," said Duterte.

(He had a strong influence on Marcos, he was successful. During Ramos' time, he was a hanger-on.)

Duterte claimed Ongpin also owns an online gambling business.

The President, a self-confessed Socialist by heart, derided oligarchs as people who don't work hard yet earn a lot of money because of their political influence.

"These are the guys na umuupo lang sa eroplano nila, umuupo sila sa mansion nila. 'Yung pera nila nagpapatak, parang pera ng taxi," said Duterte.

(These are the guys who just sit in their airplanes or their mansions. Their money adds up like the fare adding up in a taxi's meter.)

The President repeated his promise that he will run "a clean government" and that he will continue to battle corruption. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.