Marcos Jr admin raises fears of telecoms cronyism

marcos jr
Image by Rawf8 | Bigstockphoto

During their campaign, now President of the Philippines Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and his running mate, now Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, vowed to prioritize digital infrastructure to improve internet speeds. However, not everyone is convinced that a Marcos presidency will be good for the telecoms industry in the Philippines.

Reports revealed that present at the May 9 victory party of Marcos Jr were representatives of DITO CME Holdings, which owns third telco DITO Telecommunity. Dennis Uy, the founder of Udenna Corporation and owner of Chelsea Logistics, is one of the major shareholders of DITO.

Uy and his wife were also seen with Marcos Jr prior to the elections. According to a piece by Philippine high-level insider “Babbler”, Uy would be able to extend his power for another six years if he allied himself with the president, after what seemed to be a successful relationship with former President Rodrigo Duterte.

This has led to speculation that the Marcos presidency will favor select oligarchs, much like his father’s regime. Critics also fear that a Marcos presidency would lead to the resurgence of crony capitalism in the Philippines, as well as the return of martial law.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio previously warned former cronies of the Marcos family that if Marcos Jr. became the president, he and his family would demand to take back the ill-gotten wealth Marcos entrusted to his cronies in several companies, including leading telco PLDT.

In 2000, Imelda Marcos filed a P20 billion cross-claim against PLDT, saying that the Marcoses are the rightful owners of the telco. According to her, she and her husband Ferdinand Marcos Sr. bought PLDT through Prime Holdings Inc. in the 1960s before transferring their stake to then-PLDT president and chairman Ramon Cojuangco and other dummies.

“Supposedly, Marcos entrusted his shares in many of these companies to cronies with the understanding that the shares will be returned to the family when asked. But some of those cronies refused, denying Marcos had shares in their companies. Will a President BBM force those double-crossing cronies to now deliver those shares to them or else?” opinion columnist Boo Chanco wrote.

Meanwhile, number two player Globe Telco released a statement from President and CEO Ernest Cu saying it supports the president’s digitalization plan, saying its “network and infrastructure are ready to support the government and we look forward to working closely with the new administration to achieve this shared goal.”

Marcos Jr – the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos – won by a landslide 31 million votes over former Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who received 15 million votes. He was inaugurated on 30 June as the 17th president of the Philippines, after a highly polarizing election that weaponized social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube.

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