MANILA (UPDATED)- Presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday said he is okay with releasing his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) in public if he wins the elections this year, but added that it is still a government official's prerogative to do so.
In the presidential debates hosted by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's SMNI, Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, said it is not a problem for him to make his SALN public.
"Sa issue ng pagbigay ng SALN, ako para sa akin, hindi problema un. Hindi lang ako nagsusulat ng SALN for the last 6 years pero kung ako ay maging mapalad sa darating na halalan, natural ay kailangan gagawa ng SALN at ito ay ibibigay ko sa publiko kung hihingin sa akin," Marcos explained.
He noted though that the decision to do so still lies with an elected government official.
All public officers and employees are required to submit a declaration of their assets, liabilities and net worth under oath according to Article XI, Section 17 of the Constitution.
The law also states that in the case of the President, the Vice-President, the members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.
"Yan ang desisyon ko bilang indibidwal, sa aking palagay ay hindi na kailangan palitan ang batas at nasa sa bawat opisyal na yan kung sila ba ay handa na ilabas ang kanilang SALN," he explained.
"Sa sarili ko lamang, para maging maliwanag, kapag ako ay susulat muli ng SALN, ito ay gagawin kong public information."
This is a 180-degree turn from Marcos Jr., who earlier said SALNs could be weaponized for political attacks and that giving the media access to the document may also be used by political opponents.
Aall presidential bets present in the even on Tuesday night said they are okay with releasing their SALNs. They include former presidential spokesperson Ernie Abella, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and former defense chief Norberto Gonzales.
"Depends what the purposes are for making them public; if the purpose is going to be a political attack, then why would we want to do that?" Marcos Jr. said last month.
When a panelist asked the presidential bets if it is okay for them that their family members would be required to release their SALNs, he had reservations.
He said only public officials should release their SALNs, not private family members.
"Sa aking palagay, kung sino ang nasa batas na kailangang sumulat ng SALN ay kung nasa sakanya kung sila ay lalabas. Ang pamilya ko naman, siguro hindi dahil pamilya ko kailangang sumulat ng SALN at kailangan ilabas," he said.
"Kaya't siguro ang aking sinasabi, kung may kapamilya man ako na nakaupo na sumusulat ng SALN, sa palagay ko handa sila na ilabas lahat yan."
Based on data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, Marcos Jr. declared a net worth of P211 million in his 2015 SALN—his last SALN that ABS-CBN News obtained before his senatorial term expired in 2016.
His assets included a vast number of real properties in Laguna, Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Taguig City, and Mandaluyong City, all of which amounted to more than P66.6 million as of December 2015.
However, a condo unit located in Ayala Avenue, Makati City, which he listed as “investments” under “personal properties,” was valued at P78 million –P11 million more than the value of all his listed real properties combined.
Lawyer Marichu Lambino, a media law and ethics professor at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, earlier said withholding SALNs is illegal.
The Marcos family has long sought to rebuild its image and has repeatedly denied allegations that it plundered state wealth, while the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was in power, which was estimated in 1987 at $10 billion.