Ongpin to Duterte: I was born poor, I worked honestly for my money

  • Embattled Ongpin defends himself to president’s accusations
  • He told Duterte he was born poor and acquired his wealth the hard and honest way
  • He also said Duterte was fed the wrong information about him being an oligarch

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled businessman Roberto Ongpin defended himself amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s allegations he was an oligarch, saying he was born poor and had to work hard and honestly for his wealth.

“Define an oligarch for me. If it means I have money, I do have money but I made it all honestly. I worked hard for it,” ABS-CBN quoted him as saying.

Ongpin, a former trade minister under late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, recounted the days when he had to study hard even as his family could not afford to buy him a pair of shoes.

“I was barefoot. My family simply couldn’t afford to buy shoes,” he said. “I was born poor. I worked hard. I graduated from public school, I graduated valedictorian.”

Ongpin, who offered to sell his entire stake in Philweb to save the company after PAGCOR refused to renew its operating license, also said he believes Duterte was fed the wrong information about him being an oligarch.

“I don’t know what the intention was. I have no clue why it happened. I don’t know who fed him with all of the falsehoods, but he did make the statement and he is the President of the country,” he said.

The tycoon, estimated to be worth $900 million, added Philweb’s board of directors had just agreed to build a drug rehab center in Quezon province and subsidize its operations with P100 million annually when Duterte tagged him as an oligarch.

“I have been very supportive of the president’s very serious drive against drug pushers, durg lords,” he said. “I hope the PhilWeb board, if PhilWeb continues to exist, will continue this program.”