By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — 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
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. The 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. (ai/mtvn)