Pacquiao is the only billionaire in the House of millionairesBy Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – For the second year running, Manny Pacquiao—the man with the golden fists—has won the distinction of being the richest among the 287 mostly millionaire members of the Philippine House of Representatives.
Ricardo Bering, chief of the House’s record management section, said this was based on the 2011 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) filed at Monday’s deadline by the House members.
“His net worth even increased last year. He is still the richest here,” Bering said of the Sarangani representative, whose explosive fists have won him eight boxing division titles and worldwide fame.
Bering said Pacquiao, who claimed a personal fortune of P1.134 billion in his 2010 SALN, reported an increase in his net worth in 2011. Bering declined to give exact figures since House leaders have not given the go-signal for the public disclosure of the SALNs.
Based on the 2010 SALNs, Pacquiao was the richest member of the House last year—and the only billionaire in the chamber.
His assets then consisted of P397.933 million in real properties and P736.3 million in personal and other properties. He had no liabilities.
In contrast, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano was the poorest lawmaker, with a net worth of P75,711.
Pacquiao was reported to have earned at least $15 million each from his fights with Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2011, aside from his earnings from commercial endorsements, businesses and as a member of Congress.
Pacquiao’s increasing wealth is expected to highlight further the supposed steep plunge in his tax payments, which media reports said fell from P100 million in 2008 to only P7 million in 2009.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue has filed charges against Pacquiao for his alleged failure to submit proper documents on his earnings. Pacquiao has questioned the filing of the case, saying it was baseless.
House Secretary General Marilyn B. Yap said that almost 100 percent of the House members had filed their SALNs as of 5 p.m. Monday. Yap said her staff would validate the SALNs before releasing information to the public.
Yap also said she had noticed a marked increase in the net worth reported by lawmakers in the face of increased scrutiny by the public and media as a result of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona in connection with his assets.
“Our members have become more conscious of the SALN. That’s why they have made an effort to make a complete report this time,” said Yap.
Pacquiao topped the list of 10 richest House members in 2011.
That list included Negros Occidental Rep. Alberto Benitez, who was worth P624.847 million; Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, who was worth P623.6 million; Negros Occidental Rep. Julio Ledesma, P555.069 million; and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, worth P475.611 million.
Also in the top 10 were Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, worth P294.602 million; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., worth P283.291 million; Tarlac Rep. Enrique Cojuangco, P199.593 million; Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, P195.78 million; and Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron, P165.996 million.
Former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the 17th richest representative with a net worth of P140.212 million.
Malacañang said on Monday President Aquino and almost all of the members of his Cabinet had filed their SALNs.
“We expect all of them to comply with the deadline,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, adding that Mr. Aquino filed his SALN last April 24.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. have also filed their SALNs.
Mr. Aquino declared a net worth of P54.9 million. This represented a P4.8-million increase from the previous year. Mr. Aquino has said the increase in his income came from his share of the property owned by his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
Lacierda said the Palace expressed hope that Corona, whose ouster from the Supreme Court has been sought by Malacañang, would disclose his SALN as promised by the Chief Justice’s lawyers.
“We certainly hope so because that would be in compliance with the constitutional provision on disclosure and filing of SALNs,” Lacierda said.
He said he would be interested in taking a look at Corona’s SALN.
(With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Inquirer Research)