Combined, the fortune of the top 10 richest Filipinos is enough to account for the internal revenue allotments of all the municipalities and some cities in the Philippines for almost a decade.
And this year’s list, according to Forbes, is topped by former Senator and Presidential candidate Manny Villar, whose net worth is $5. 5 billion or about P275 billion—almost double the P140 billion budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the entire country this year.
While we cannot question Senator Cynthia Villar’s intent to be in the Senate and again, the fact that her husband is the richest Filipino raises this question: Who needs the platform of the nation’s highest legislative body when your family is rich and influential enough to chart the destiny of the Motherland, so to speak.
Then again, Villar tops the list because the elder Henry Sy passed away and left the retail empire to his heirs, who are at the bottom of the list but remain to be the most well-off Filipinos.
The elder Sy’s massive estate, it looks like, was bequeathed and apportioned equally to his heirs especially the male ones. Makes us wonder if there were anything that trickled down to the ordinary workers of SM.
The richest Filipinos in 2019 according to Forbes are the following: Manny Villar ($5.5 billion), John Gokongwei Jr ($5.1 billion), Enrique Razon Jr. ($4.8 billion), Lucio Tan ($4.4 billion), Tony Tan Caktiong and family ($3.9 billion), Ramon Ang ($2.9 billion), Andrew Tan ($.27 billion), Hans Sy and Robert Sy ($2.4 billion), Harley Sy, Henry Sy, Jr., and Teresita Sy-Coson ($2.2 billion), Elizabeth Sy ($1.9 billion), Eduardo Cojuangco and Robert Coyiuto, Jr. ($1.4 billion), Ricardo Po Sr. and family ($1.2 billion), and Roberto Ongpin ($1.1 billion)
Yes, we all know that the companies and dynasties and empires of these tycoons have charity arms. Foundations that send children to school funded by their conglomerates are not unheard of. But imagine a hundred billion peso net worth of a single Filipino. Does anyone of them help people to great lengths in ways proportional to their massive aasets?
We cannot help but second-guess. But we do hope that these luckier ones help the less fortunate in many ways. To their credits, the people on the list have labored and have gone through a lot. They will not be there had they just been sitting ducks. At least some people deserve what they have. After all, it’s never wrong to be rich as long as the manner of amassing fortune is fair and not filthy.
But when it’s the ordinary people who fuel their riches, it is essential that the way they share their blessings is more visible to the eye.
It is just right that we demand from politicians—from the powers that be. These people in power won’t be there if we did not elect them anyway. They have accountability to us.
May we not forget however that the other dynasties we help build—these multibillion-peso entities—must be accountable too.
We build their empires. In one way or another, they must show us how they got there and they must give back to the nation that feeds them.