MANILA, Philippines – It seems Filipino-Chinese tycoon Lucio Tan is now on the good side of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte was effusive in his thanks to Tan for providing the Philippine Airlines (PAL) planes that flew overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait back to Manila.
In his speech in front of the OFWs upon their arrival on Tuesday, February 13, Duterte gave an assurance that he would never make accusations against Tan again.
"On behalf of our countrymen, salamat po (thank you). And I will remember you for all time," said the President, addressing both Tan and the Gokongweis who own rival airline Cebu Pacific.
After Tan's assistance to the OFWs, Duterte said he would forgive and forget.
"Because of this incident, Mr Lucio Tan, I am going to shut up forever. Okay na sa akin, tapos na (It's okay with me, it's over)," said the President.
He added that he no longer bears any grudge against the tycoon.
"Huwag kayo mag-alala na mayroon akong sama ng loob. Wala po kasi ganoon lang ang politika....Eh tapos na 'yan, binawi ninyo ilang beses na," said Duterte.
(Don't worry about any ill will I might have. There's none because that's politics....That's over now, you took it back many times already.)
Duterte also thanked Tan for his family's many donations for the rehabilitation of Marawi.
"Bayad ka na, noong pinakita mo in several occasions marami kang bingay sa Marawi na tulong (You've paid up, when you showed in several occasions all the help you gave for Marawi). I really appreicate you and your family," he said.
Duterte had also threatened to close PAL's terminal in Metro Manila if Tan would refuse to pay P6 billion in unpaid air navigational charges, incurred since the 1970s.
In November 2017, PAL finally paid the P6 billion.
Duterte, however, also previously said Tan owes the government not just P6 billion, but P30 billion.
During his Tuesday speech, Duterte sought to tell other businessmen that if they "do the right thing," they can expect protection from any government "harassment."
"Huwag ka mag-aalala, walang harassment sa gobyerno (Don't worry, there'll be no harassment from government)...Just do the right thing and I will do the right thing," said the President.
"I am ready to protect any businessman like you," he added, appearing to affirm what his entrepreneurship adviser Joey Concepcion once said – that to get on Duterte's good side, businessmen should support the government's programs. – Rappler.com