The world's billionaires, including those in the Philippines, grew their wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, while millions either lost their jobs or struggled to make ends meet during the prolonged quarantine, according to Forbes Magazine.
Sixteen of the 17 Filipinos in the 2,755-long billionaires list reported a jump in their net worth this year from 2020, Forbes said.
Former senator and property tycoon Manuel Villar is the richest Filipino for the third straight year, ranked 352nd in the world. His wealth grew 28.6% to P349.45 billion in 2021 from P271 billion last year.
Ports and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon Jr was second with a 47% increase in net worth to P242.67 billion from P165 billion.
Taipan Lucio Tan was third after growing his wealth by 94% to P160 billion from P82.5 billion. Philippines Airlines, which Tan controls, cut 2300 jobs during the pandemic.
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The others who made the list and also saw their wealth grew are Hans Sy, Herbert Sy, Andrew Tan, Harley Sy, Henry Sy Jr, Teresita Sy-Coson, Elizabeth Sy, Tony Tan Caktiong and family, Ramon Ang, Inigo Zobel, Lance Gokongwei, Ricardo Po Sr and family, and Edgar Sia II.
The lone billionaire in the list who reported a decline is Alphaland's Roberto Ongpin whose net worth dropped by 29.4% to P58.3 billion from P82.6 billion.
How rich are the Philippines' richest?
How big is their combined net worth? At P2.2 trillion which is almost half of the Philippines' P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021.
To make it more imaginable, P2.2 trillion is more than twice the P82.5 billion budget needed by the Philippine government for its target of inoculating at least 50 million Filipinos in 2021.
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To help the Philippine economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, some Filipino billionaires have been helping government in ordering vaccines from various manufacturers, pitching half of their own companies' orders through tripartite deals.
In November of 2020, they paid for over 2.6 million COVID-19 vaccines ordered from British drugmaker Astrazeneca. Razon, Tan, Gokongwei, Ramon Ang,Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and the Sy siblings led the initiative.
In March of 2021, a procurement deal of 20 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines was signed, led by Razon.
For the overall list, Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos retained the top spot for the fourth straight year, with a net worth of $177 billion or P8.6 trillion.
He is followed by Tesla's Elon Musk, luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, Microsoft's co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.