Publication of Duterte’s SALN depends on the Office of the Ombudsman, Palace says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020   •   507

 MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang insists that the publication of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN depends on the Office of the Ombudsman.

This was the Palace’s response when asked whether the public will ever get to see the wealth records of the Chief Executive.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque advises the public to follow the regulations imposed by the Ombudsman on public access to SALN of government officials.

“May bago pong guidelines na sinusunod ang Office of the Ombudsman. Siguro po dahil po constitutional body ang Ombudsman, dapat pong sundin ang kanilang mga guidelines [The Office of the Ombudsman is following a set of guidelines. Since the Ombudsman is a constitutional body, their guidelines must be followed),” Roque stressed. 

Unlike in past administrations, the Ombudsman is no longer allowing the public to see copies of the SALNs.

It can only be provided to a requester if he or she is the declarant or the person who filed the SALN or the duly representative of the declarant, a court order is present or the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

Senate panel approves COA, Ombudsman proposed 2022 budget

Maris Federez   •   October 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved the proposed budget of two constitutional bodies for 2022.

Senator Sonny Angara called the budget deliberation of the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman the shortest so far for this year, as the panel gave its approval under 15 minutes of the hearing.

The committee hearing for COA’s proposed budget of P14.4 billion only took 10 minutes and was soon endorsed for the nod of the plenary.

“No questions on the part of the Chair. […] this is probably the shortest budget meeting of this 2022 budget,” Angara said during the hearing.

Indicated in COA’s proposed budget is its request for additional funds for personnel services for the third tranche of the pay adjustments under the salary standardization law for government employees.

COA also requested a budget increase for the construction of provincial satellite auditing offices and provision for the operational expenses of these branches.

“We have written a letter to the committee asking for additional budgetary support primarily on the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) […] and possibly if the budget is flexible enough, maybe additional capital outlay,” said COA chairperson Michael Aguinaldo.

COA has, so far, completed the construction of 54 satellite offices, and 17 more under construction.

Meanwhile, it only took the Senate panel 13 minutes to finish the hearing of the P3.9 billion budget of the Office of the Ombudsman that was recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Ombudsman Samuel Martires appealed for additional funding for its operational budget that was cut by almost half by the DBM.

“We’re not asking too much. If it will be hard for the Senate to give us the proposed budget for 2022, then we just would like to request that at least the budget that was given to us for 2021 be retained,” Martires said.

The Senate is currently on recess and is expected to resume on November 8 wherein senators are expected to start the deliberation of the national budget in the plenary. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Villar, Pacquiao among billionaire senators in 2020

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar remains the richest senator based on the 2020 Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Based on the SALN released by the Senate of the Philippines, Villar has a net worth of P3.87 billion followed by boxing Senator Manny Pacquiao who has a net worth of P3.18 billion.

Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima ranked the poorest among senators with a net worth of P9.54 million.

The release of SALNs has been a practice to inform the public of the assets of government officials for transparency.

Though recently, Malacañang has been arguing against it saying President Rodrigo Duterte may opt not to release his SALN and leave the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.

List of richest, poorest senators based on 2020 SALN:

Cynthia Villa P3,875,696,435
Manny Pacquiao – P3,187,092,600
Ralph Recto – P581,071,657
Juan Miguel Zubiri – P220,736,702
Ramon Revilla – P179,958,909
Juan Edgardo Angara – P150,898,358
Franklin Drilon – P106,862,853
Grace Poe – P101,327,620
Sherwin Gatchalian – 91,213,596
Vicente Sotto III – P85,643,477
Pia Cayetano – P84,891,678
Richard Gordon – P77,569,572
Manuel Lapid – P74,948,572
Francis Tolentino – P59,582,000
Nancy Binay – P59,770,251
Panfilo Lacson – P58,330,268
Aquilino Pimentel III – P37,203,400
Imee Marcos – P36,270,467
Ronald Dela Rosa – P34,383,136
Joel Villanueva – P33,029,725
Francis Pangilinan – P23,941,333
Christopher Lawrence Go – P22,274,508
Risa Hontiveros – P16,720, 359
Leila De Lima – P9,544,111

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