MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday launched a counterattack against Filipino and American media outfits whom he claimed were “crucifying” him.
After assailing The New York Times over its alleged hypocritical attacks on his war on drugs, the chief executive again pounced on “oligarch” media ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He warned the latter that he would soon take steps to recover a government property in Makati that was allegedly leased through a sweetheart deal to a firm controlled by the Prieto and Rufino families, owners of PDI.
“These are the oligarchs, which I was talking about when I was campaigning…Di ko masikmura [I can’t stomach them],” Duterte told reporters at the Palace on Thursday, April 27, on the sidelines of a joint press conference with Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, among the first leaders who arrived in Manila for the 50th Asean summit.
Asked if he would have the Inquirer investigated, Duterte said, “Yes. I will recover the property for the Filipino. Everybody who has a tax obligation must start to talk now.”
“Inquirer, you have to let go of that property. It is not yours,” the President said, adding that “within six months” he “will go after them [PDI owners].”
Duterte was referring to the 2.9-hectare prime property in Makati owned by the National Power Corp. that was leased to Technology Resource Center Foundation Inc. (TRCFI) in 1978.
The Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation (PDAF) took over TRCFI’s rights to the property in 1986 after the EDSA uprising in February and entered into a sublease agreement with Sunvar Realty Development Corp., the property arm of the Rufino and Prieto families.
Afterwards, Sunvar built on the property the Premier Cinema, Mile Long Arcade, Makati Creekside Building, the Gallery Building, and Sunvar Plaza.
In 2002, Napocor told PDAF and Sunvar that it would no longer renew the 25-year lease agreement over the property that would end the same year. However, Sunvar did not vacate the area.
In 2009, then Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera filed a case in court to compel Sunvar to leave the property. In 2015, the OSG won the case when the Metropolitan Trial Court in Makati City ordered the firm to vacate the the area and pay the government P478.2 million in back rentals plus a monthly rental of P3.2 million monthly until Sunvar leaves the property.
However, Napocor was unable to reclaim the property because Sunvar was able get an injunction from the Regional Trial Court Branch 58 in Makati. In 2016, the Court of Appeals denied the government’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the injunction issued by the Makati RTC.
Earlier, Duterte also said he would look into the P8-million tax settlement agreement between the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Golden Donuts, Inc. (GDI) the Dunkin’ Donut franchise holder in the Philippines controlled by the Prietos.
In 2014, former BIR revenue officer 2 Othello Dalanon filed a criminal and administrative complaint against then BIR chief Kim Jacinto-Henares before the Office of the Ombudsman over her allegedly deliberate non-collection of P1.56 billion in tax deficiency from GDI.
Duterte threatens ABS-CBN
Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated his complaint that ABS-CBN allegedly did not air a political ad that was already paid for his 2016 presidential campaign.
Asked if he had plans to block the renewal of the franchise of the Lopez-controlled media firm, Duterte said, “Yes.”
He claimed that ABS-CBN was “irresponsible” because it also allegedly did not air the already paid 2016 political ads for then vice presidential bets Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Alan Cayetano.
“‘Yong ABS-CBN… Ako, si Chiz Escudero. I don’t know if you… He was… si Cayetano. Irresponsible ABS-CBN. Tanggapin ninyo pera namin, nakalimutan man lang ninyo…,” said Duterte.