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Kaya ba wala sa inauguration? Duterte has yet to confirm or deny reports he called Manny Pangilinan ‘Salim’s puppet’

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Did he or didn’t he?

Netizens are still waiting on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare whether reports that he allegedly insulted PLDT Chair Manuel V. Pangilinan as “Salim’s puppet” was true or not.

In his Manila Time column, former Arroyo Secretary Rigberto Tiglao pointed out that the issue has been left hanging by Duterte’s silence since the news broke out more than week ago on social media.

Tiglao said: “He (Duterte) hasn’t denied reports that he replied to the main executive of that public-utility Indonesian conglomerate: “Simply recall that you are just a puppet of the foreign-based Salim Group, while I am the chosen President of the Republic of the Philippines!’.”

Duterte had reportedly made the broadside after Pangilinan was quoted in a newspaper report on June 18 warning the government not to meddle in the telecommunication business amid questions on his joint buyout with Globe Telecom on May 30 of the 700-megahertz broadband spectrum from San Miguel Corp., a third player which could potentially have broken up the PLDT-Globe duopoly in the mobile phone and Internet business.

“I couldn’t confirm if he really said that through any of Duterte’s official spokesmen,” said Tiglao.

Pangilinan was conspicuously absent among the business bigwigs at Duterte’s inauguration in Malacanang on 30 June 2016.

Tiglao has written several articles claiming that Salim Group of Indonesia is the biggest controlling stockholder of PLDT-Smart, Maynilad Water, Meralco and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. in violation of constitutional limits on foreign ownership of these regulated utility firms.

Tiglao has called Salim the modern-day Harry Stonehill , an American G.I. who became one of the biggest businessmen in post-war Philippines but was deported by the President Diosdado Macapagal on charges of tax evasion and economic sabotage.

“Harry Stonehill, built a conglomerate of cigarette, glass and cement manufacturers. His net worth was estimated at $50 million at the time, equivalent to $400 million today – peanuts, compared with Salim’s estimated assets in the country of $6 billion, based on the value of his shares in PLDT, his holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Philex Mining,” wrote Tiglao.