Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade clarified on Tuesday that all his wealth were legitimately acquired, saying that he will be transparent and honest in answering questions and acquisitions “in appropriate forums and manner.”

He said the offshore investments mentioned in the Pandora Papers, which were made public on Monday, are “a matter of public record.”

“The subject offshore investments in Solart Holdings was a personal financial move that was established long before I joined government,” Tugade said.

The transportation chief explained that Solart Holdings was organized in 2003 to hold a portion of his family’s cash assets.

“Having some of our family’s savings invested in Solart Holdings was our legitimate attempt to grow our financial portfolio like what any astute and judicious entrepreneurs would do to diversify their investments. We decided to have a portion of our savings invested outside the Philippines, which is valid and legal,” he said.

Tugade also said that this “has consistently been disclosed” in his Sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) under “Personal Properties-Intangible” particularly, as “Offshore Investments” from 2012 to 2020.

In the said period, the account barely moved, he added.

“As an appointed public servant, I have taken an oath to uphold transparency, honesty, integrity and good governance. These are cherished values that I personally believe in, and I have made it a lifelong commitment to sustain and carry around myself,” Tugade said.

He added: “Wala po akong tinatago, at sasagutin ko ang anumang paratang at katanungan in appropriate forums and manner.”

The Pandora Papers, the largest leak on offshore holdings of the wealthiest politicians and businessmen in the world, made headlines on Monday.

Rappler, in partnership with the Philippine Investigative Journalism Center and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, reported that Tugade appeared in the Trident Trust Group’s records which stated that Solart Holdings is “expected to have assets worth $1.5 million [P75 million] in the form of cash, bonds, and securities from the business income of private corporations under the Perry’s Group of Companies.”

This, Rappler reported, was not reflected on Tugade’s SALN since 2012, and that his offshore investments amounted to roughly P57 million.

Separately, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope O. Libiran branded in an open letter the Rappler article as “false, misleading, and downright defamatory.”

“We take strong exception and will not take lightly this apparently well-oiled and orchestrated effort to malign and discredit the good image and reputation of Secretary Tugade and his family,” she said.

Tugade is being endorsed by the PDP-Laban as part of its senatorial slate.

“We give emphasis to the fact that whatever Secretary Tugade has is a product of his decades of hard work and perseverance, which are exemplified by his no-nonsense leadership, character and untarnished credibility,” Libiran said.

She added the camp of Tugade would exhaust all legal means to make matters straight.

“Consider this as a stern warning and an assertion that our lawyers will exert all necessary effort, to the fullest extent of the law, to find those behind the malicious and irresponsible publication of this report,” she said.





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