MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday apologized to big businessmen, specifically to the Ayala family and Manuel Pangilinan, for attacking them in his past speeches.
"Yung mga masakit kong salita, to the Ayalas and to, si Pangilinan, I apologize for the hurting words. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me because if you do not, if you do not want to forgive me, I will undercut you, I will go direct to God," Duterte said in a recorded public address.
According to Duterte, he recognizes the efforts of businessmen in the country to help the government in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"'Yung mga big business, let me tell you something. Mayroon tayong mga problema noon (we had problems in the past), which was really part of governance, and which I hope you'd understand, and it was really part of my sole duty as an employee of the government, who heads the executive department," he said.
"I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us, helping us, you know, provide the necessities of the moment," Duterte added.
He also said he is ready to talk to them, citing that the COVID-19 pandemic is a humbling experience for him.
"The COVID humbled me. With the kind of response that you gave, showed to the public. It's a humbling experience also for me that, you know, baka kailangan mo rin sila balang araw," Duterte said.
"Maybe, there will be a lot of legal issues but we can talk. I'm ready to talk and I'd be reasonable," he added.
Since the start of his term, Duterte has been criticizing those he called "oligarchs".
He has accused the Ayalas and Pangilinan of allegedly taking advantage of their water concession agreements with the government.
The Ayala group, led chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, and president and COO Fernando Zobel de Ayala, earlier said on it was rolling out a P2.4-billion relief package for employees and partners affected by the enhanced quarantine imposed over Luzon due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pangilinan's PLDT, meanwhile, has donated 30 service vehicles to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for use in anti-COVID-19 operations.