Razon’s repugnant businesses
In the race of billionaires, ranking second is Enrique Razon Jr, one of Duterte’s biggest bourgeois-comprador cronies. In the past six years, he was favored with government and military contracts, and drew profits from the sweat of workers and other toiling classes. During the Covid-19 pandemic, his wealth almost doubled. From ₱182.7 billion in 2020, his declared wealth this year shot up to ₱360 billion. This does not include deposits hidden in overseas banks.
Latest of Razon Jr’s investments is a solar farm which he boasts will be the world’s largest when completed in 2027. Solar farms are power plants which gather energy from the sun’s heat. In 2020, he acquired 50% of Solar Philippines Tarlac Corp. owned by Leandro Leviste.
Razon has yet to publicly divulge where his solar farm will be built, but currently, Solar Philippines has acquired 10,000 hectares in Batangas, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, mostly former corn and rice fields. Razon brags he will exceed the current largest solar farm in India covering 5,700 hectares.
Razon claims his solar farm is eco-friendly. What he does not say is that he also continues to engage in mining, dam constructions and carbon-fed energy plants in and outside the country. His project also involves grabbing thousands of hectares of agricultural lands, and loss of farmer’s livelihood and homes.
The Razons are a known crony of Marcos Sr who served as the dictator’s dummies in acquiring properties worth millions of dollars. Razon Jr, for his part, became known as every president’s crony, most especially since the 2000s. He funded the creation of the National Unity Party and recently financed Marcos Jr’s campaign.
Under Duterte, Razon Jr snatched one after another the Manila Water and power companies, Apex Mining, Dennis Uy’s casinos, and others. An estafa case filed against him for not compensating a stockholder’s shares was sidelined.
One of Razon Jr’s main companies is the International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) which is notorious for oppressing dockworkers. ICTSI operates in 30 piers in 18 countries, most of which are poor and whose workers’ rights are suppressed.
Whichever country ICTSI operates in, workers suffer Razon Jr’s greed and cruelty—low wages, unsafe workplaces, and massive and illegal termination of unionists in order to be replaced with workers without benefits.
In Africa, ICTSI has monopoly of operations in the port of Madagascar where 62% of the population live below poverty line. Having full control of the delivery of imported food to the country, Razon shamelessly admits that he charges the country 500% more than other countries for his operations.
In the Philippines, communities in Rizal and Kalinga are endangered because of Razon’s destructive dam projects. In 2009, if not for the struggle of Catanduanes residents and their supporters, Razon would have already grabbed around 7,000 hectares for his coal mine.
Knowing he has to rely on the military for his businesses to dominate, Razon also satisfies the mercenaries with funds. He built a ₱540-million building for the Philippine Military Academy. At the height of the military’s bombardment of Marawi City, he supplied them with war equipment, in addition to providing soldiers with food and other necessities.
Meanwhile, he appointed former colonel Michael Ray Aquino as security officer of his casinos and mining company. It is the responsibility of the so-called “Lacson’s butcher” to ensure “corporate social responsibility,” which only means cleaning up his companies’ evils and silencing oppressed communities.