THROWBACK: Who is Roberto Ongpin? Duterte's 'oligarch' target


Posted at Aug 04 2016 08:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2016 10:11 PM

THROWBACK: Who is Roberto Ongpin? Duterte's 'oligarch' target 1
Roberto Ongpin

MANILA - Who is Roberto Ongpin? 

This former trade minister during the Marcos dictatorship built a business empire that has outlived several administrations post-1986, but he insisted in an exclusive ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) interview in 2011 that he was not a "crony" of the Marcoses but a "technocrat" who helped protect the economy from the Marcos cronies. 

In his rare interview, Ongpin said he amassed most of his wealth before the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos appointed him trade minister in the 1970s.

Ongpin said he never accepted a bribe while serving the dictatorship that is accused of amassing millions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth.

"All of the entire time I was in the Cabinet was very difficult. I was under attack from a lot of sectors, principally his cronies. That's why I resent being called a crony!" he said in the ANC interview.

TRANSCRIPT: Ongpin says he's a technocrat, not a crony

Ongpin is the country's 20th richest man, with a net worth of $900 million according to Forbes Magazine.

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To the show business set, he is known as the owner of Balesin, a private island off Quezon province with sections built to mimic international destinations like Mykonos, St. Tropez, and Phuket. The island hosted the 2015 wedding of actress Heart Evangelista to Senator Francis Escudero.

Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of online gambling operator PhilWeb on Thursday, after shares dropped by the steepest margin on record.

The night before, Duterte vowed to "destroy" oligarchs and singled out Ongpin. These big businessmen, he said, count money on their private jets and mansions while the poor suffer.

PhilWeb's license to operate had been renewed on a per-month basis since Duterte declared shortly after his assumption on June 30 that online gambling must stop.

But the president's wrath is not Ongpin's only problem, he is fighting a Securities and Exchange Commission ruling that fined him P174 million and barred him from holding office in listed companies over alleged insider trading.

At stake are Ongpin's interests and several other companies including flag carrier Philippine Airlines, miner Atok Big Wedge Co. and real estate company Alphaland Corp.

Watch the exclusive ANC interview here: