Five families in the Forbes List of 2016 Philippines’ Richest are in media, four of which made their money predominantly from media:
The Lopez Family tops the list of media billionaires: The Lopez family, headed by Eugenio Lopez III, the grandson of Lopez Group founder and ABS-CBN Corporation’s Eugenio “Eñing” H. Lopez Sr. Eugenio H. Lopez Sr. was the son of former Iloilo governor Benito Lopez and the elder brother of former Vice President Fernando H. Lopez. Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez does not hold a management position in the media company but is the current Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, a cabinet position to which she was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The triumvirate of former congressman Gilberto Duavit, Menardo Jimenez and Felipe Gozon, controls the media group GMA Network. Son Gilberto Jr. runs the network operations, while Duavit’s younger son Michael left his position in the board to focus on a political career. Duavit’s brother in-law, Menardo Jimenez, former GMA Network’s president, still holds considerable shares while serving as consultant at investment bank First Metro Investment. Advertising dollars from political ads during the 2016 presidential elections helped bring in a reported 150-percent increase in profits for the network in quarter one.
The Yap Family, who built their wealth in banking, owns Manila Bulletin Publishing, which is responsible for the most popular broadsheet Manila Bulletin as well as the tabloids Balita and Tempo.
Even though the political and economic elite are interweaved, those links have not led to targeted discriminatory actions in the recent past, with in general little political control being openly exerted. It poses, however, a potential risk to media as soon as the political elite start to exploit the vulnerability of media owners.