The oligarch twist: The bigger, meaner oligarchs these days

/ 04:01 AM July 21, 2020

I have yet to see the logic in the thinking that in closing down ABS-CBN, the government won the war against the oligarchs. That statement rings with as little truth as the other coming from the opposite side of the fence that the fight to salvage ABS-CBN was the fight of the Filipino people. Nah. If the President himself said barely a year ago that ABS-CBN’s days were numbered, then where’s the surprise?

The congressional vote merely confirmed that the goose was already cooked.


It is the oligarch thing that baffles me more, because unlike in the congressional vote, the truth here is not as clear. There is no question that it’s the President that nailed the network’s coffin. But we are not sure where the President is coming from to say it’s payback time for oligarchs. Dumb Filipinos may think they know what he meant, if at least they bothered to think, but the eminent writer F. Sionil Jose is not dumb — senile maybe — yet he took the oligarch twist hook, line, and sinker.

“Oligarch” is one of those terms to come out of the mouths of social technocrats who, if you come to think of it, have contributed nothing much to the planet except confusion. My personal view of oligarchs is, they are those snobbish elitist people who got rich without a sweat, the family fortune having already set them up for life, where their only problem now is how to spend it. I do sound like one of those technocrat morons by bringing up the word “elitist.” Damn, now we have two confusing obfuscating words instead of just one.


With his genius, F. Sionil Jose should have at least bothered to define the term and say why the rich should burn at the stake — and why we should limit oligarchs to the Lopezes. Most importantly, he should have bothered to tell us why the President is really the rightful person to rant and rage against rich people with the fury of moral karma. I can’t hold a candle to F. Sionil Jose, but I would be the first to say he totally missed the point, ignoring the fact that the Dutertes are themselves oligarchs — perhaps the bigger and meaner oligarchs these days, in fact, compared to the Lopezes.

If a president can live the life, treat government property like his or her own, borrow money and spend it like the proverbial drunken sailor, spoil lawmakers and military friends with treats, etc., such president can be a million times as lavish to his own family.

If the only thing that separates the Dutertes from oligarchs is that oligarchs are rich from their heirloom wealth, thus becoming the few we now call the “old rich,” then the Duterte brand of oligarchy would be a much more anomalous kind. Indeed, the Dutertes were never known as oil barons in the past or lotto jackpot winners in the present; instead, they boast of having come from humble beginnings (what an irony), supposedly rising to the summit by just working in government, as if the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is now found in government service.

There lies the oligarch twist.

Adel Abillar
Quezon City

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TAGS: Adel Abillar, Letters to the Editor, oligarchy, Rodrigo Duterte
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