Ike Señeres .
SINCE we could not see them or hear them, it is difficult to believe that the so-called oligarchs would actually exist. We may just be like a bunch of monkeys who see nothing and hear nothing, but that does not mean that we will also speak nothing if we are able to conclude that these oligarchs would actually exist. The truth is these oligarchs are not like the legendary Yeti that might have been seen or heard, but still it is difficult to confirm their existence. Of course in the case of the oligarchs, we may not have heard them speak, but definitely we have heard so much about them. Despite not being able to see them or hear them, it seems very clear that we could all feel them, especially so when we could all feel the effects of hunger and poverty, two social problems that are widely attributed to them.
For purposes of clarification and fairness to some of our friends, we should categorically say that not all rich people are oligarchs and strictly speaking, not all taipans are oligarchs either. For sure however, all oligarchs are presumed to be very rich, and many of them are crazy rich, if you please. That may not be a figure of speech, because some of these people have gone crazy, not knowing perhaps how to handle their wealth. In an open forum, I asked lawyer Glenn Chong how he defines oligarch, while telling him that there are many rich people who have worked hard for their money and as a matter of fact, have not stolen a single centavo. I also told him that there are many taipans who appear to be law abiding and even God fearing, at least as far as I know. In response to my question, he said that we could tell whether one is an oligarch or not, by the way he treats his workers, and by the way he complies with our laws, especially our labor laws.
Even if I was satisfied with the definition offered by Mr. Chong, I felt that I should broaden his definition, and towards that end, I would say that an oligarch uses his influence to affect the outcome of laws as to how these could be or would be implemented. Other than that, he could also use his influence to ensure the passage of certain laws that would affect his interests, as a matter of fact; it would not be farfetched to suspect that some oligarchs could be contributing large amounts of money to some candidates, in exchange for the approval of their projects. Of course we could still say that the Congress belongs to the people, because strictly speaking, their members are voted by the people. Nonetheless, what seems to be happening is far from what is ideal, because it seems that the only people who ever get elected to Congress are the rich people who generally belongs to the old families in the provinces.
Generally speaking, and without any doubt, I could say that many of the laws in this country are slanted in favor of the rich. Either that or our laws may be generally neutral but could easily be interpreted in favor of the rich. Notice how the rich people could get away with hospital arrests and presidential pardons, privileges that could hardly be granted to poor people. As a result, poor defenceless people have to rot in jail for stealing a few bucks, while rich powerful people literally get away with stealing millions. Sometimes, I am led to believe that the Philippines is really one country with two dimensions, like two parallel universes that are subdivided between the rich and the poor. While it may not be correct to say that all rich people are oligarchs, there is no denying that the oligarchs are at the top of the heap of the rich folks. Notice how healthy the rich kids are in the malls, and how malnourished the poor kinds are in the streets.
As the leftist people would say, the ruling class is rich because they control the means of production. It seems however that that may no longer be 100 percent true now, because in the new economy, the means of producing intellectual properties and digital assets are already in the hands of everyone, at least those who have smart phones and personal computers. That is even true in the field of broadcasting, because even the poor people could broadcast now, even if they do not own broadcasting stations, using only the free streaming hosts. It seems however that what is simply needed now is internet connectivity that is not only cheaper, but is also faster. God forbid, I hope that the oligarchs would not realize that the cheaper and faster the internet gets, the people would not only become smarter, they would also become richer. That reminds me of old rumours that the Spanish colonizers did not really want us to become more educated, lest we become more agitated. The rest is history!