PCIJ to Duterte: Nix blame game, address wealth issues
MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte family should just just offer “clear, direct, [and] straightforward” answers about their wealth rather than blaming and hitting and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report, PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas said in a statement late Sunday.
“In truth, the President did not have to lose his cool; the PCIJ report was built on the Dutertes’ own declarations in their SALNs (Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth), and data from official government records,” Mangahas said.
“PCIJ had wished only for the Dutertes to offer clear, direct, straightforward replies to our queries. Instead of blaming PCIJ for the report,” she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier took a swipe at investigative journalists, alleging that they are being paid to publish such reports.
“Makita mo ‘yung utak ng mga investigative journalism kaya… Pera-pera lang. Binabayaran ‘yan kung ganun kalaki. Pati nung lawyering ko at saka ‘yung motorcycle shop (You can read the minds of investigative journalists, it’s all about the money. They are being paid big amounts. They notice even my lawyering and motorcycle shop),” Duterte said on Saturday during the National Federation of the Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines’ annual national convention in Iloilo City.
The President was supposedly reacting to a series of PCIJ reports which claimed that his SALN, as well as those of his children, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Paolo Duterte, reported significant increases in wealth while serving in public office.
The reports added that the presidential family had undisclosed businesses and an unregistered law firm.
“Eh ngayon, tinitira kami ng mga anak ko, all about lawyering. Ano ba naman pakialam nila na what happened to my law office (My children and I are being questioned about our law firm. Why do they care about what happened to my law office?),” Duterte said.
Mangahas, however, clarified that the PCIJ has reported on the wealth of five of Duterte’s predecessors.
“For the record, PCIJ has reported on the wealth and the controversies that had hounded of all five presidents before him – Benigno S. Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, Fidel V. Ramos and Corazon C. Aquino,” Mangahas said.
The veteran journalist further said that the PCIJ has “exerted best efforts to get their side.”
“It would have been far better had Mr Duterte, daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara, and son and former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo granted PCIJ’s request for comments, and possibly sit-down interviews, before the story ran,” she said.
“PCIJ exerted best effort to get their side — by courier, fax, and email, we sent them two batches of request letters in October 2018 and in January 2019,” she added.
Mangahas also noted that the PCIJ has “secured authentication as certified true copies of the corporate documents and the asset records that the President had filed since 1998, and Sara and Paolo, since 2007.”
She also cited the SALN Law or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713, which stated all public officials “are enjoined to file ‘truthful and complete’ disclosures of their assets, liabilities, and net worth.”
“Public officials, not least of them the President, are also required to subscribe and swear by the authenticity of their SALN filings, and to have these documents duly notarized,” she added.
Meanwhile, in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday, Mangahas said she was on the phone with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Ryan Acosta a day before the said reports were published.
“They were saying that they wanted more time to respond but by that time actually that was the day only that they saw the referral letter sent by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the letter actually asked Medialdea and undersecretary to respond to the PCIJ request letter,” she said.
“I think we did our best effort to get their side and they didn’t respond, they knew about the questions,” she added.
Mangahas further suggested that Duterte “turn his attention at his deputies, notably Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for the failure of Office of the President to attend to PCIJ’s request letters, over the last five months.” /gsg
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.