By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said it is every citizen’s business to know the wealth of the President and his family.
After the PCIJ released its three-part investigative report, Duterte said in a speech last Saturday, “Makita mo ‘yung utak ng mga investigative journalism kaya… Pera-pera lang. Binabayaran ‘yan kung gano’n kalaki. Pati nu’ng lawyering ko… “Putang-ina ninyo. Hoy, ‘yung mga dilaw, all the time I was with my mother. Maski na noong mayor na ako, ang nagpapakain sa akin nanay ko. ‘Yung nanay ko ang may pera. ‘Yun ang nanay ko nag-iwan ng pera sa amin. Pero kung magkano, eh bakit sabihin ko sa inyo?”
The PCIJ published on April 3, “The Dutertes: Wealth Reveal & Riddles,” examining the statements, assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the President, his son Paolo and daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio. The reports noted inconsistencies in the SALNs submitted by the three public officials to concerned government agencies.
The submission of a SALN is required by law under Article XI Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution and Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713, the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”
A SALN is a declaration of assets (i.e., land, vehicles, etc) and liabilities (i.e., loans, debts, etc), including business and financial interests, of an official/employee, of his or her spouse, and of his or her unmarried children under 18 years old still living in their parents’ households.
In a tweet, PCIJ said, “Public office is a public trust. How officials comply fully with the laws or don’t, whether they file “truthful and complete” SALNs – every citizen’s business.”
Malou Mangahas, PCIJ executive director, said in a statement, that Duterte needed not lose his cool as the PCIJ report was built on the Dutertes’ own declarations in their SALNs, and data from official government records. PCIJ had also secured authentication as certified true copies of the corporate documents and the asset records that the President had filed since 1998, and Sara and Paolo, since 2007.
Mangahas said it would have been far better had Mr Duterte, daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara, and son and former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo granted PCIJ’s request for comments, and possibly sit-down interviews, before the story ran. She said the PCIJ exerted best effort to get their side — by courier, fax, and email, sending two batches of request letters in October 2018 and in January 2019.
“PCIJ had wished only for the Dutertes to offer clear, direct, straightforward replies to our queries,” Mangahas said. “Instead of blaming PCIJ for the report, Mr Duterte should turn his attention at his deputies, notably Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for the failure of Office of the President to attend to PCIJ’s request letters, over the last five months.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) stood by the PCIJ. Jaime Espina, NUJP chairperson, told Bulatlat, “The Constitution and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees mandates transparency. The President and his family are not exempt.”
Espina added, “As for his (Duterte’s) accusation against investigative journalists, if he has proof, by all means present it. As far as we know, many of the investigative journalists we know are among the creme de la creme of the profession.”
Mangahas said that for the record, PCIJ has also reported on the wealth and the controversies that had hounded of all five presidents before Duterte — Benigno S. Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, Fidel V. Ramos, and Corazon C. Aquino.