MANILA/DAVAO, Philippines -- The day Rodrigo Duterte became president, Roberto Ongpin was one of the Philippines' richest men. Ongpin had survived -- and prospered -- under six presidential administrations by trading favors and greasing friendships with politicians. He had a full arsenal of luxuries at his disposal, including a billionaire's island dotted with villas, serviced by butlers and accessible by a fleet of private jets, and an exclusive club at the center of the capital's business district, where the whiskey was poured each day at precisely 5 p.m. and far into the night.
During his populist campaign for president in 2015 and 2016, Duterte took aim at the corruption and excesses of wealth-hoarding ruling families like Ongpin's. He called them "a cancer on society," and "illustrious idiots" who flew around in private planes while the Filipino people suffered.