For democracy to thrive, according to Drilon, “We need free press and to allow journalists to exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear.” “In an interview, (Drilon) arrogantly mentioned, among others, that oligarchs need not be rich,” said Duterte. “Then he linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was my daughter and son. This happened after the Committee on Franchise voted 70-11 to deny the grant of franchise to ABS-CBN. Obviously, he was defending the Lopezes that they are not oligarchs.” “Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people which use their power to seek personal gain or benefit their business interests,” Drilon said. “You cannot equate the rich and oligarch. It does not mean that if you are rich, you are on oligarch. An oligarch is the one that influences the decision of the government or the one using their [riches] in order that the policy that they want will be pursued.”/PN Drilon, in a previous interview, had said if the President was serious in dismantling oligarchs, the latter must tell his allies in Congress to pass the Anti-Dynasty Bill. MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte opened his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa by making Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon of Iloilo City his punching bag. Drilon recently dared the President to encourage the Congress to pass the anti-dynasty law to dismantle oligarchy effectively. “Wala po akong kinalaman sa concession agreements na ‘yan. Kaya ko pong harapin ang buong bansa at sabihin na wala akong kinalaman diyan,” Drilon said. “Wala po akong pakialam sa sinasabing concession agreement ng Pangulo. Wala na po ako sa ACCRA nun.” “I aired my support for the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN because undeniably the network complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others, even to the government,” he added. “My countrymen, it is sad that while government focuses its attention and resources to battle the coronavirus, there are those who take advantage of a preoccupied government. One of them is Sen. Frank Drilon,” said the President at the start of his close to two-hour speech yesterday afternoon. President Rodrigo Duterte used his State of the Nation Address to castigate Sen. Franklin Drilon over the opposition lawmaker’s proposal to ban political dynasties if government wants to dismantle oligarchy. In response, Drilon said he was defending press freedom and not the Lopezes who own ABS-CBN Corp. which was shut down by the National Telecommunications Commission after its franchise expired and was not granted a new one by Congress. “Media is a powerful tool in the hands of oligarchs like the Lopezes who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures. I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election,” said Duterte. “Were you a part of (the) ACCRA (law firm) when this contract of (Manila) Water was being drafted? Bakit kasi ikaw lang ang galit sa dynasty? You are a hypocrite,” Duterte said. Drilon stressed that simply being rich is not equivalent to being an oligarch and also emphasized that political dynasties will continue to nurture oligarchy in the Philippines. “I was defending freedom of the press, not the Lopezes. The closure of the ABS-CBN sent a chilling effect,” Drilon said. Justifying ABS-CBN’s closure, Duterte said great wealth enables economic elites and corporations to influence public policy to their advantage. The senator said Duterte must go beyond the fact that he has children in the politics in House deputy speaker Paolo Duterte, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Baste Duterte if he is really determined in dismantling oligarchy. “With the popularity rating of the President, he has the capacity to push that in Congress,” Drilon said over at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay. “When you want to remove oligarchy as a power structure then you should rise above all of these.” In the latter part of his speech, President Duterte once again lambasted Drilon and accused the latter of having a hand in the questionable water concession agreement entered by the government before with Manila Water. In an interview over DZBB, Drilon reiterated he was never involved in the crafting of the water concession agreements as Duterte claimed.