Justice chief OK with lifestyle check on Cabinet members

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2019 04:56 PM | Updated as of Aug 15 2019 05:49 PM

Some Cabinet members already wealthy even before joining gov't

MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said he welcomes the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission’s (PACC) move to conduct lifestyle checks on Cabinet members.

“That’s very good, I welcome that. Especially for me. Until now, sa Bulacan pa ako umuuwi (I still go home to Bulacan),” he told reporters at the sidelines of a Justice Sector Coordinating Council meeting between the Supreme Court, the justice department and the interior and local government department in Manila.

PACC commissioner Greco Belgica on Wednesday told reporters in Malacañang that his office is investigating corruption complaints against 2 Cabinet members.

He also revealed that the PACC is conducting a lifestyle check on at least 200 government officials from the Bureau of Customs, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“That’s ok, I guess that’s a very healthy exercise and that would dispel any doubts about the integrity of Cabinet members,” Guevarra explained.

The justice chief, however, clarified that some Cabinet members were already rich even before they entered government service.

“But let me tell you that some of these Cabinet members are actually wealthy even before they joined the government service kaya huwag nating ipagtaka kung bakit ang laki ng kanilang net worth (so let us not wonder why they have a big net worth). They’re already wealthy before they joined the government,” he said.

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In June this year, the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group reported that the Duterte Cabinet is composed of billionaires and multi-millionaires.

The richest are Public Works Secretary Mark Villar with a net worth of P1.408 billion and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi with a P1.39 billion net worth, based on their latest Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade each have over P300 million in net worth while Presidential Communications and Operations Office Martin Andanar, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. each have more than P100 million in net worth.

Guevarra, meanwhile, ranks 19th in a list of 25 Cabinet members with over P14 million in net worth for 2018.

Among the Cabinet members, Cusi had the biggest jump in net worth from P162.7 million in 2016 to P1.39 billion in 2018. He attributed this sudden rise to the sale of his family-owned and controlled corporation Starlite Ferries Inc.