The most powerful man in the Philippines, Lucio Tan
Lucio Tans' concubine Letty Tan
Lucio Tan is the Philippines’ second richest man and one of the richest in Asia. But it is the way in which he has made his billions that perfectly illustrates the crony capitalism and CORRUPTION that has plagued the Philippines (and a lot of other Third World countries). He comes from poor Chinese immigrant descent (Chinese were not entitled to Filipino citizenship until the 1970s) and started off as a scrap dealer – thus fulfilling the Filipino stereotype of Chinese. As a young man he moved into the tobacco industry, where he first met the young Congressman, Ferdinand Marcos. During the long years of the Marcos dictatorship, Lucio Tan was his closest crony.
In 1987 (after Marcos’ overthrow by the People Power revolution) Rolando Gapud, Marcos’ financial adviser, swore an affidavit to the Presidential Commission on Good Government: "I know that Mr Marcos and Mr Lucio Tan had an understanding that Mr Marcos owns 60% of Shareholdings Inc, which owns shares in Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery, Allied Bank and Foremost Farms…Mr Lucio Tan, apart from the 60% equity of Mr Marcos, has been regularly paying, through Security Bank, 60 to 100 million pesos a year to Mr Marcos, in exchange for privileges and concessions that Mr Marcos has been giving him" .
After Marcos’ downfall, he attached himself to the rising star of Senator Joseph Estrada, who went on to become Vice-President under Fidel Ramos, then was elected President, in 1998. Tan was the major financier of his successful Presidential campaign. He became Estrada’s closest crony, regularly being seen with him in public and travelling with him (most unusual for the usually circumspect Filipino-Chinese business class). Estrada looked after his mate – when the tax department charged Fortune Tobacco with P26.5 billion in tax evasion, Tan’s well placed connections throughout the bureaucracy, judiciary and the political system (including the President) ensured that the charges were dropped (the Court of Appeals ruled that the Government had filed its case 11 days too late)
Estrada went the way of Marcos, in January 2001, when People Power 2 overthrew him – But Lucio Tan emerged unscathed. True to form, he has renounced Estrada and carried on profitably under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Business is business – politics is only the means to enable him to acquire more wealth and power. And any means will do.
Lucio Tan is the very worst sort of crony capitalist and a devil incarnate.