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PAL chairman’s generous gesture wins Duterte over

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By Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is going to “shut up forever” about business tycoon Lucio Tan in gratitude for the airplanes sent to bring home Filipino workers from Kuwait.

75th Anniversary of PAL | 17March2016 Dr. Lucio Tan on his open remarks in celebrating the 75th anniversary of Philippine Airline held in Solaire Resort Parañaque yesterday night. MB Photo | Jun Ryan Arañas

PAL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lucio Tan

The President has decided to end his conflict with Tan after the Philippine Airlines (PAL) chairman and chief executive officer offered assistance for the distressed Filipino workers.

“So meron kaming konting alitan na hindi naman ganung kalalim. Pero ‘yung binawi nila sa subsequent events ng buhay ng isang Pilipino. At ilang beses sila nag-offer ng eroplano libre na [We had a small rift although it was not that deep. But they have compensated for it in the subsequent events of the lives of Filipinos. They have offered airplanes for free],” Duterte said in welcoming the Filipino workers repatriated from Kuwait at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Tapos na ‘yan at binawi na ninyo at ilang beses na (It’s over and you have given back for a few times) Because of this incident, Mr. Lucio Tan, I’m going to shut up forever,” he said.

Duterte earlier said he was prepared to be in friendly terms with Tan if he would send five airplanes to bring home Filipinos from Kuwait.

The President previously locked horns with Tan over his airline company’s unpaid navigational fees. Tan eventually paid P6 billion to settle the debt with government after Duterte threatened to shut down the PAL terminal.

Following Tan’s gesture to send planes for OFWs, Duterte said the businessman would no longer hear him rant about his non-payment of taxes.   “Nabayaran mo naman ‘yung taxes mo [You have paid your taxes],” he added.

Duterte said Tan should also not worry of any government harassment.  “Just do the right thing and I will do the right thing and we will be all right,” he said.

Apart from Tan, the President extended his gratitude to businessman Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacfic who also deployed planes to ferry Filipinos out of Kuwait for free.

“I’d like to just say to Mr. Lucio Tan and the Gokongwei family, si Lance, in behalf of my — in behalf of our countrymen, salamat po and I will remember you for all time,” he said.

He assured that he would protect businessmen from any form of corruption in the bureaucracy.

“I am ready to protect every businessman,” he said.

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