MANILA - Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Tuesday refuted comments that oligarchy is a national "problem" that needs to be solved, especially during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
"COVID, gutom at kawalan ng trabaho ng milyun-milyon nating mga kababayan ang problema, hindi itong mga oligarchs, kuno," Pangilinan said in a statement.
(COVID, hunger and the unemployment of millions of Filipinos are the problems, not these supposed oligarchs.)
"Gawa-gawa lang 'yang problema ng mga oligarchs. Walang kinalaman ang pagsasara ng ABS sa matinding problema dulot ng COVID," he said.
(The problem of oligarchs is just an imaginary problem. The closure of ABS-CBN has nothing to with our grave problem brought by COVID.)
The "problem" of oligarchs was "invented" to divert the public's attention from demanding results from the government during the global pandemic, the opposition senator said.
"Inimbento lang ang problema na oligarchs para linlangin ang taumbayan dahil sa totoo lang wala silang maipakitang ni katiting na magandang resulta sa pagsugpo sa lalo pang kumakalat na COVID, sa gutom at sa kawalan ng trabaho ng milyun-milyon nating mga kababayan," he said.
(They just invented the problem of oligarchs to dupe people because honestly, they could not show good results in combatting the spread of COVID, hunger and the unemployment of millions of Filipinos.)
Pangilinan did not name government officials in his post, but President Rodrigo Duterte and ally House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier gave statements saying oligarchs were toppled after an administration-dominated House panel denied ABS-CBN's bid for a fresh 25-year franchise.
Last week, 70 lawmakers voted against giving the Philippines' largest broadcaster a license to operate.
They insisted that the network violated several laws, even after regulatory agencies repeatedly said that ABS-CBN was "deemed compliant" to policies.
As of Monday, over 57,000 Filipinos have been infected with the coronavirus. Earlier lockdowns have driven unemployment to record-highs, the economy has shrunk as the quarantine shuttered businesses, while foreign debt has swollen as government grappled for resources to address pandemic.