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Once upon a time, “anti-oligarch” Rep. Defensor threw this “The Great Gatsby” party

The latest buzzword this week is “oligarchy,” along with the government’s efforts to dismantle it―starting with the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

“A ‘yes’ vote to stop the franchise is a vote to stop [the] perpetuation of an oligarchic state―an oligarchy that continues to suppress our people,” Rep. Mike Defensor said during the last hearing on the network’s franchise renewal.

The legislator himself expounded on his statement by defining oligarchy: A small group of people that controls the country, which he likened to the network’s use of mass media.


“The Great Gatsby” reel

After Rep. Defensor’s comments on the nation’s oligarchy, a video of his daughter Miguel’s Las Vegas-meets-“The Great Gatsby” debutante ball last year surfaced recently and made rounds in chat groups and Twitter.

The highlight reel was uploaded on event videography company Threelogy’s YouTube channel on Feb. 11, 2019, with over 50,000 views as of writing. 

The video shows candid moments captured during the event―from Miguel’s meticulous hair and makeup preparations to her grand entrance at Sofitel Manila in a sleek Rolls-Royce. Various shots also showcase the venue with huge crystal chandeliers and countless balloons.

Perhaps it’s the irony of the video that caught the attention of netizens after the legislator emphasized during the July 9 hearing that President Duterte’s comments on “destroying the oligarchy” was in reference to the minority of wealthy entrepreneurs who continue to be on top of the country’s elite circles.

“Ang pangulo nagpapalit bawat anim na taon. Ang kongresista, nagpapalit bawat tatlong taon. Ang senador, bawat anim na taon. Ang politika palit nang palit, pero ang malalaking negosyante sa ating bansa ay patuloy na namamayagpag,” he said at the hearing, which had received criticism


Backlash? Not the first time

This isn’t the first time that Defensor had been on the receiving end of scrutiny since his public support of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality Bill to protect marginalized sectors, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, was also met with criticism. 

In a Bandera article published on Sept. 5, 2019, he said that Miguel coming out as transgender influenced his perspective on the LGBTQ+ sector.

“This bill is saying na itong sektor na ito ay may potensyal na apihin. ‘Wag nating payagan at bigyan natin sila ng karampatang batas, ng karampatang proteksyon na ‘pag nangyari naman ‘yung ganito pamamaraan o ganitong mga bagay ay mayroon silang sasandalan na batas na paninindigan sa ilalim ng ating gobyerno,” he told Bandera.


Read more:

Here are 6 head-scratching moments from the ABS-CBN hearings

What can you do when dismantling the system dismantles you?

A reminder to the government that we are a democracy, and the people hold power


Art by Jenny Masangkay


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