MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte promised to put up housing projects for soldiers and poor families in the Mile Long property being claimed by the Prieto family, owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"'Yang Mile Long, i-surrender mo 'yan kasi ipagbili ko 'yan (That Mile Long, you surrender it because I'll sell it). I promise you, I will build as many houses as the money can accommodate," Duterte said on Monday, July 17, in a speech in Malacañang.a
He was speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of new government appointees.
"I will make houses even for the soldiers. I commit that to the nation. I'll put up housing for the poor," he added in Filipino.
His promise for the poor came with threats against the rich families who control property which he says rightfully belongs to government. He accused the Prietos of "swindling."
"These newspaper owners, who do they think they are? The way they editorialize people in government saying they are thieves.... You have hostaged a government property for so long a time and collected the rentals there. That is swindling," he said.
His promise to build housing in the property appears to be a concretization of his earlier promise to allow the poor to "occupy" government lands controlled by private companies which don't pay proper taxes to government.
Duterte's rants about the Mile Long property is one way he has attacked Inquirer for what he calls their inaccurate and biased reporting.
It was the newspaper's report on Senator Antonio Trillanes IV'S "exposé" about Duterte's supposed ill-gotten wealth that earned them his ire.
The Mile Long property is the subject of a court case between the Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, a developer owned by the Rufino and Prieto families, and the city of Makati.
In September 2016, the Court of Appeals rejected the city government’s move to take possession of the property. This was in response to a 2015 decision by a Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) in Makati which ordered Sunvar to vacate the 2.9 hectare property, according to a report from the BusinessMirror.
The MTC then ordered Sunvar to pay the government back rentals reaching P478.2 million then. They were also told to pay a P3.2 million monthly rent beginning June 2015.
The Prietos are currently in talks with businessman Ramon Ang on his plans to acquire a majority in the Inquirer.
Aside from this threats against them, Duterte has also warned he will file multiple estafa charges against ABS-CBN for supposedly not airing his political advertisements even after accepting payment during the campaign. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.