WITH the surfacing of the Pandora Papers, a deputy minority leader on Wednesday challenged President Duterte and his Cabinet members to publicly release their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate hurled the challenge after the “Pandora Papers” exposed the financial secrets of politicians and public officials all over the world, including the Philippines.
“If you are not hiding anything, do not wait till your names are later on included in the Pandora Papers or on other similar exposè on the hidden wealth of the greedy powerful, rich or corrupt persons,” said Zarate.
“[Transport] Sec. [Arthur] Tugade, for instance, claimed that he declared his offshore companies in his SALN yet he did not list down the details, not even the names of these companies. For full transparency, it would be even better if they also sign a waiver to have their bank accounts scrutinized aside from releasing their SALN,” said the Davao-based solon.
Tugade had said on Tuesday that he made a full disclosure of his offshore assets in his SALNs, adding that all his wealth came from legitimate sources.
According to Zarate, full transparency and accountability from government officials, either elected or appointed ones, should be made a core issue in the coming May 2022 elections.
“As it is now, people cannot be blamed for thinking that Duterte and his cohorts enriched themselves in power and that is why they are hiding their SALNs up till now,” he added.
“Dubious schemes to hide ones assets and liabilities are also badges of corruption, as shown, for instance, in how the dictator Marcos and his cronies were able to amass hidden wealth, a large part of it yet to be recovered by the government,” Zarate said.
Earlier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said he will not yield to pressure to release to the public the SALNs submitted by government officials, including President Duterte.
Since 2017, Duterte has not publicly released his SALN.