House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Photo courtesy by CNN Ph)

MANILA – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday stressed the need to introduce changes in the Philippine socio-political and economic system to remove the oligarchs’ influence over the country.

During the hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, Cayetano said the current system enables oligarchs to create policies that favor and promote their interests over public interest by penetrating politics.

“These oligarchs are in the best position to pass the laws, to change the laws, to use the laws, to abuse the laws. And kasama nito ay very powerful politicians na either nagamit, nagpapagamit or very happy na magkuntsaba din sa kanila (This includes very powerful politicians that were either used or being used, or very happy to connive with them [oligarchs]),” he said.

Cayetano said while there are oligarchs in the country, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte “leveled the playing field.”

He said Duterte has treated everyone equally no matter how rich, powerful, or close their ties are with him.

“In every other administration, may paborito palagi (there are always favorites). At kung paborito yung isa, yung hindi paborito umaangal (And if one is being favored, the other one complains). But that doesn’t mean there’s no oligarchy,” Cayetano said.

He said everyone is “equally guilty” for allowing the persistence of oligarchies in the socio-political and economic system, thus the need to pursue changes.

“We’re in a chance now to change the ecosystem… Our job is to fix what is broken, to bring new life to a new socio-political and economic system,” he added.

In a speech aired Tuesday, Duterte said he dismantled the country’s oligarchy without declaring martial law.

He did not mention names, but his remarks came a few days after a House panel voted to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise, permanently shutting down its operations.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque later clarified that Duterte referred to tycoons Lucio Tan, the Ayalas and Manuel V. Pangilinan who earned Duterte’s ire in the past due to some issues. (PNA)