Dream house gives mayor nightmares
ILOILO CITY—What started as a dream house is now giving Mayor Jed Mabilog nightmares.
Mabilog has found himself defending his three-story mansion, dubbed “white house” here, which President Duterte is using against the mayor.
The mayor said on Wednesday that his house was not a “palace” as described by Mr. Duterte, although it was the family’s dream house built from his income and that of his wife Marivic.
“Everybody dreams of building a beautiful home. Marivic and I built one not only for ourselves but [also] for our children,” Mabilog said.
“I just feel sad that what I had hoped to be a dream home has become a nightmare for me and my family. But I can assure the President that not a single centavo of dirty money was spent for this home,” he added.
Mr. Duterte has ordered a lifestyle check on Mabilog, whom the President has repeatedly accused of being a drug protector.
In a speech before newly promoted police officials on Wednesday, the President described Mabilog’s house as “like a palace.”
“He is probably the child of someone very rich,” the President said of the mayor.
In response, Mabilog told the Inquirer that he had nothing to hide.
“My house, while often described as a palace, is not quite a palace. It is not as big as pictures would make it appear,” he said.
His “white house” is across from the city’s famous lateral park, the Iloilo Esplanade.
Subject of complaints
It is the subject of criminal and administrative complaints filed by a former Iloilo provincial administrator, Manuel “Boy” Mejorada, in the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the President for allegedly being part of Mabilog’s unexplained wealth and the product of plunder.
The Ombudsman Visayas is conducting a fact-finding investigation of the house based on Mejorada’s complaint.
Mejorada, a longtime critic of Mabilog, claimed that the house was worth P50 million based on its size and features.
But the Mabilog couple claimed that the house was built over three years at a cost of less than P8 million.
The couple invited Iloilo journalists to their residence in September last year for a brief tour of their three-room house, which sits on a 200-square-meter lot that is part of the Mabilog family compound.
The Ombudsman Visayas, which conducted a lifestyle check on Mabilog, reported that the mayor’s net worth as indicated in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) increased from P7,379,576 in 2004 to P9,711,868 in 2005.
It further increased to P16,515,195 in 2006 and to P44,454,432 in 2007.
In 2008, Mabilog reported a net worth of P57,333,525, which went up to P67,165,330 in 2009. It dropped to P64,739,729 in 2010.
Mabilog served as city councilor from 2004 to 2007 and vice mayor from 2007 to 2010.
Elected mayor in 2010 and reelected in 2013, he is serving his third and last term, which ends in 2019.
Mabilog insisted that the house and other assets were acquired using his earnings as a businessman and his wife’s income.
He noted that his wife was employed for 21 years, rising to become vice president for finance and comptroller of Terracom Geotechnique, a geodetic engineering company in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
She retired in December 2014.
“Modesty aside, I and my wife were already running a number of businesses before I joined politics. I was already living a comfortable life in Manila as an entrepreneur when I came home to run for city councilor. I didn’t become rich because of politics,” Mabilog said.
He said his wife made “huge sacrifices” working in Canada for many years and at the same time made investments.