Palace, Sara Duterte shrug off report on Dutertes' 'growing' wealth

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2019 08:09 PM

MANILA – Malacañang and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Thursday shrugged off a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) which examined the wealth of members of the Duterte family who are in public office and raised questions about their growing riches.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Savaldor Panelo said the timing of the report’s release was “suspect,” noting that it is election season.

Panelo, however, said there was nothing new in the PCIJ report.

“The President’s wealth, including those of his immediate family members, has been the favorite subject of media reports during election campaign season,” Panelo said.

“[However], public documents on the matter, including their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), are public records and open for public scrutiny.”

Panelo said Duterte, being a lawyer, “would not prepare or even sign a document which contains falsehoods or omits matters that require to be so indicated.”

“These documents would speak for themselves and ultimately, it is the Filipino electorate who would be the judge on who to believe in this regard,” he added.

Duterte-Carpio, for her part, said she is opting not to respond to the report “because there’s nothing there that’s worthy of an answer na hindi masasagot ng SALN (Statementof Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) ko. Lahat ng questions nila nasagot na ng SALN ko.”

(There’s nothing there that's worthy of an answer that cannot be answered by my SALN. All of their questions can be answered by my SALN.)

“Sabi nila three parts daw so antayin namin second, third parts then I will decide if there’s anything there worthy of a comment na di nasagot ng SALN ko," she added.

(They said the report has three parts. We will wait for the second and third parts then I will decide if there is anything there worthy of a comment and was not answered by my SALN.)

In its report released Thursday, the PCIJ noted that President Rodrigo Duterte, daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, and eldest son former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte “have all consistently grown richer over the years, even on the modest salaries they have received for various public posts, and despite the negligible retained earnings reflected in the financial statements of the companies they own or co-own.”

Duterte-Carpio is seeking reelection as Davao City Mayor while her brother is running for the city's first district representative.

“How and why their fortunes are rising remain a mystery; the numbers do not seem to add up, and what they reveal in their SALNs breed riddles of incongruent details instead of clarifying questions,” the report added.

The PCIJ noted that across the 10-year period from 2007, the President’s wealth nearly tripled, Paolo Duterte’s more than tripled, and Duterte-Carpio’s grew more than six times.

In the mayor's case, the PCIJ noted that the biggest increase in her net worth year-on-year was in 2017, a year after she returned as Davao City Mayor and after her father was elected President.

Duterte-Carpio’s net worth in 2017 climbed to P44.83 million, or an increase of 28.45 percent from what she had declared the year before at P34.89 million, the PCIJ said.

Her brother, meanwhile, saw his declared net worth rise to P16.51 million in 2008 from P8.34 million just a year earlier.

“In his 2008 SALN, Paolo reported receiving an annual gross salary of only P324,624 as barangay captain, and an annual gross family income of P951,926.33. These amounts could hardly explain the huge uptick in his net worth from 2007 to 2008,” the PCIJ report said.

The President's son also experienced a second upsurge in his net worth in 2017, the PCIJ noted, rising to P27.74 million from P19.84 million in 2016.

In his speeches, President Duterte talked about his family's humble beginnings. He would sometimes say he came from a poor family. He has also projected an image of a President who is not keen on living a luxurious lifestyle.