Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima chided Mr. Duterte for failing to meet the requirements of accountability as mandated by the Constitution as he persistently refuses to publicly disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
De Lima pointed out that “hidden wealth is the surest sign of a kleptocracy,” which is characterized by a government where leaders plunder and exploit national resources.
“Hidden wealth is the surest sign of a kleptocracy. With the Pharmally scandal and Duterte’s secret SALN, a kleptocracy is what this government amounts to nowadays. And the Filipinos wouldn’t want a kleptomaniac in charge of their tax money,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1141.
While Duterte has repeatedly claimed he is fighting corruption, his SALNs have been kept secret since 2018. Ombudsman Samuel Martires, has, since 2017, restricted the public’s access to the President’s SALN.
De Lima maintained that publicly disclosing one’s SALN is the least that is expected of public officials like Duterte to meet the requirements of accountability, as mandated under the Constitution.
“Accountability of public officers is deemed so critical in our system of government, that our Constitution devotes an entire Article on it, consisting of 18 Sections,” she said.
“It is just the first step. A lot more is expected after that. The solution to an official refusing to disclose his SALN is, therefore, simple. Get out of government. Government does not need officials hiding their wealth from the people,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol shared that her lawyers requested for Duterte’s SALN from Malacañang and the Ombudsman.
“Last year I asked my lawyers to request for the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of President Duterte from Malacañang. As expected, Malacañang refused and told them to go to the Ombudsman.”
“So my lawyers went to the Ombudsman early this year and, again, requested for the President’s SALN. After several months, the Ombudsman replied to their request in the negative,” De Lima narrated.
“It was a straightforward request that, in past administrations, would have not met such elusive treatment, nor would even be necessary, given the fact that a President and his Cabinet are expected to voluntarily publish their SALNs for the scrutiny of the public. At least, that was the case before Duterte,” she added.
De Lima lamented how Duterte’s SALN is more difficult to access than anyone else’s considering that he is expected to be more transparent and accountable than anybody else as the highest official of the land.
“If we cannot have access to the President’s SALN, then why are we even still pretending to be a Republican government? Why don’t we just declare ourselves to be a monarchy or a dictatorship, so at least our citizens will no longer expect their leaders to still be accountable to the people?” she asked.
In an earlier statement, De Lima said Duterte’s involvement in what she called as the 8.6 billion “Pharmally heist” is obviously among the reasons why he refuses to disclose his SALN.
“Maybe the AMLC can enlighten us on the covered and suspicious transactions that are most likely identified in Duterte’s bank accounts since the start of the pandemic and shed light on the utterly corrupted nature of the being who is Rodrigo Duterte,” she said. (30)