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The claim of President Rodrigo Duterte that he has dismantled the “bedrock of oligarchy” in the Philippines is a farce because the fact is he has barely scraped the surface of what he believes is “oligarchy”.

Duterte erroneously appears to automatically equate “big business” with “oligarchy” when there are essential differences between the two. 

“Big business” refers to huge business and financial organizations that invest to help the government achieve economic development, and in the process assure the return of their investments. 

An oligarchy perpetrates itself to capture and run government through chosen proxies. It literally means the “rule of the few” who control political and economic power by dictating government policies.

The eventual primary characteristic of an oligarchy is tyrannical tendencies and propensity for excesses, just like in a one-man rule.

Democracy and big business can co-exist in a free society, and the role of government is to rein in big businesses, not to exterminate them, even as oligarchy is anathema to democracy.

In the 2016 presidential elections, candidate Duterte was not handpicked by big business or by the so-called oligarchy because he won a popular landslide victory because the voters did not mind his parochial credentials and believed his populist propaganda. 

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano parrots his patron when he claimed that the demise of ABS-CBN is a triumph over the oligarchy.

The dismal denial of ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise was pursuant to a personal and partisan agenda completely devoid of any ideological or doctrinal shift.

It is only a matter of accident that ABS-CBN represents “big business”, but regulators testified that it has not violated the laws. 

The evidence during the hearings showed that ABS-CBN has employed thousands of workers who supported its failed franchise renewal, has complied with its corporate responsibility, has rendered admirable public service through the years both in normal and critical times, and has gained the enduring patronage of Filipinos.