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Duterte threatens to dig into Lopez firms’ alleged unpaid debts

/ 10:02 PM September 17, 2019

President Duterte speaks about unearthing the Lopez firms’ alleged unpaid debts to the government. MALACANANG PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to “dig” into the Lopez family’s alleged “unpaid debts” with the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“The Lopez Group of Companies never paid a single centavo. It was condoned by the government. Who condoned it? Who authorized it? I really do not know,” Duterte said before newly-appointed officials in Malacañang.

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“But maybe one of these days, I’ll start to dig,” he added.

But in 2006, the DBP wrote off P710 million in loans of Maynilad Water Services Inc.; P591 million in loans of Bayan Telecommunications; P207 million of Central CATV Inc. and P157 million of Benpres Holdings Inc.—all Lopez-owned or -controlled firms at that time.

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The write-offs were made possible by the Special Purpose Asset Vehicle Law of 2002, which was enacted to help the Philippine banking system dispose of nonperforming loans.

READ: Biz-buzz: Lopez firms unpaid obligations

The Lopezes also own television giant ABS-CBN, which Duterte has slammed for allegedly being biased against him.

“Why do you have to give away money to people who are rich? Tapos mag-publish ng mga newspaper with all their protestations and all their grievances for the poor and for…,” he said.

The President has repeatedly said he would block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, which is set to expire next year./ac

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