President Duterte, right after the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise, claimed that he has already dismantled the ‘oligarchy’ during a speech in front of military troops at Sulu. The populist rhetoric of going against the oligarchy was also used during the 2016 presidential campaign wherein he vowed to go against the oligarchy. At present, many of his allies and even his supporters use the same narrative. This, however, begs the question, is he really against the oligarchy? Or does he simply want to replace them?
Right after the landslide victory of President Duterte, one man had a spectacular rise among those in the ruling clique. Dennis Uy, a 45-year-old third-generation Chinese-Filipino from Davao del Norte, is the son of provincial traders who dealt in copra, maize, and bananas. In an interview with Nikkei in 2017, Uy said that he met Duterte when he was still a mayor, they became friends, and that Duterte is his mentor in life and in leadership.
Dennis Uy was one of the top presidential campaign donors of Duterte, he donated a whopping 30 million pesos for the populist campaign. Since then, Uy has spread across the region, competing in industries that are ruled by the country’s richest and oldest business dynasties. One of these industries is the telecommunication industry that is monopolized by Globe and Smart companies whose shares are owned by the country’s oldest ruling elites who have ties to multinational holding and corporations.
For Dennis Uy to compete, he partnered up with China Telecom, a state-owned Chinese multinational telecommunications company to challenge the duopoly. Uy emerged as the sole bidder for the third telecommunication company in the country. This venture was blessed by the President himself with his staunch criticism against the duopoly, disregarding the risks of allowing a state-owned Chinese company into the telecommunication industry of the country.
The older ruling oligarchs who have ties to Western multinational companies particularly the United States will remain in control of the Philippine economy. While the Chinese-backed oligarchs such as Duterte and Uy will continue to rise as China slowly creeps into the Philippines’ economy and politics. Duterte who is a puppet of both the United States and China has no intention of dismantling the oligarchy. If this continues, he will leave the Filipino people no choice but to collectively resist until his downfall.
It is clear that President Duterte is following the same pattern, the same tactics, and the same strategy of the Marcos regime. It is also clear then that the Duterte regime will also lead itself to the same fate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was ousted by the Filipino people.