PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would go after Lopez family-owned Benpres Holdings Corporation and six other companies that are indebted to government-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
Duterte made the pronouncement at the celebration of 23rd anniversary of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
"I would go after these elite and I will not name the person but their companies before – Benpres and about six other companies – have debts to DBP," the President said.
"They're using public funds to finance their business but they're getting the earnings. And yet, they were not able to pay and it was condoned by government," he added.
According to a 2011 column piece by newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer, the loans granted and written off by the DPB to various corporations belonging to the Lopez group amounted to over P1.6 billion. This means that the government lost P1.6 billion to the group.
Citing the DBP documents, the report cited that written-off loans were granted to Maynilad Water (P710.86 million); Bayantel (P591.81 million), Central CATV Inc. (P207.1 million); and Benpres Holdings (P157.95 billion).
"All these corporations belong to, or used to belong to the Lopez group. Benpres Holdings, for example, is still operating, but the DBP has already written off loans given to it," the newspaper said.
Duterte said he would make sure that Benpres and other companies would not be absolved from using the taxpayers' money and getting loans to the government.
"I will go after the elite in this country because they are the ones really who are benefitting from these things," the President said.
"They attack harshly. They have the media outlets and all but they are really the ones benefitting from the corruption in government. They do not want to pay the right taxes. They do not want to pay their debts," he added. (SunStar Philippines)