Palace hits timing of report

Malacañang on Thursday questioned the timing of the release of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report, which inspects the wealth of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his two adult children, Davao City Mayor Sara and former vice mayor, Paolo.

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said while the report is “nothing new”, it was questionable how the PCIJ opted to release the report during campaign season since the President’s three children with former wife Elizabeth Zimmerman are running in the May 13 mid-term elections.

“The timing of the release is very much suspect. However, public documents on the matter, including their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), are public records and open for public scrutiny,” Panelo said in a statement.

“The President’s wealth, including those of his immediate family members, has been the favorite subject of media reports during election campaign season,” he added.

Sara is running for another term as mayor, Paolo as 1st District representative of Davao City, and Sebastian as vice mayor of Davao City.

The PCIJ’s April 4 report titled, “Duterte, Sara, Paolo mark big spikes in wealth, cash, while in public office”, claimed that the Duterte family has grown richer over the years and that numbers stated on their SALNs “do not seem to add up.”

“The President, Sara, and Paolo have all consistently grown richer over the years, even on the modest salaries they have received for various public posts, and despite the negligible retained earnings reflected in the financial statements of the companies they own or co-own,” the PCIJ report read.

“How and why their fortunes are rising remain a mystery; the numbers do not seem to add up, and what they reveal in their SALNs breed riddles of incongruent details instead of clarifying questions,” it added.

Panelo said the public can easily view the Duterte family’s SALNs filed during their years in public office and judge them for themselves.

“These documents would speak for themselves and ultimately, it is the Filipino electorate who would be the judge on who to believe in this regard,” he said.

Panelo also maintained that the President would never hide anything, especially matters concerning his wealth, from public eye.

“The President, being a lawyer, would not prepare or even sign a document which contains falsehoods or omits matters that require to be so indicated,” he said.

Based on data from declarations of SALNs, PCIJ reported that the President, Sara and Paolo have a net worth in eight digits each.

From 2007 to 2017, Sara’s net worth jumped from PHP13,877,469 to PHP44,828,759 while the President’s net worth increased from PHP9,743,796 to PHP28,540,321, and Paolo’s net worth went up from PHP11,745,000 to PHP27,472,800.

PCIJ said it investigated 22 SALNs that Duterte had filed since 1998; 11 filed by Paolo since 2007; and eight filed by Sara since 2007.

It said it checked with the Securities and Exchange Commission records on the business interests and financial connections listed and not listed in their SALNs, and with relevant sources, the background of their major business associates, debtors, and relatives in government. (PNA)

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