Duterte hits PCIJ for report on family’s wealth

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2019   •   4865

President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) of being paid hacks for releasing reports on the wealth of his family.

Duterte said in a speech in Iloilo City on Saturday (April 6) that whatever money his family earns outside of public office is nobody’s business.

“Eh ngayon, tinitira kami ng mga anak ko. All about lawyering. Ano  ba naman ang pakialam nila na (My children and I are being criticized. All about lawyering. What do they care about [what happened to my law office]),” he told the attendees of the 25th National Convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines at the Iloilo Convention Center.

The President’s remark came after a media report claimed that his family’s law firm is not registered and some of their business interests were not disclosed in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

While Duterte did not name the report and the news outlet, he was apparently referring to the story released by the PCIJ, which investigated into the significant increase in the income of the President and his children, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and former Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, while in office.

Duterte said he did not disclose the said business interests in his SALN because he did not own them personally. He added that he was not required to report about his family’s hard-earned money.

The PCIJ claimed in its report that the Duterte family owned an unregistered law firm and shares in several companies that were not declared in their SALNs.

PCIJ said that Carpio & Duterte Lawyers, put up by Sara and husband Manases Carpio, was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission since it was established.

According to PCIJ’s three-part report released late last week, the chief executive himself was a partner at Fabiosa Duterte Cimafranca Carcedo Law Office but he did not declare his interest in the firm in his SALNs.

PCIJ said that mayors and governors are prohibited from exercising their profession while in office. Under the law, all public officials and employees, whether regular or under temporary status are required to file and declare their business and financial interests in their respective SALNs.

The report also found that the wealth of the Dutertes have increased during their years in public office.

“… 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 report read.

But President Duterte said the law firm was a necessary option for their family. He also stressed that other people had no business scrutinizing their affairs as long as it did not involve the people’s money.

“You have to have a law office because there is an election every three years. And it’s so short. Kung matalo ka ngayong election na ito (what if you lose this election?) Where would you go?” he said, adding that it is not illegal for a politician to own a law firm as long as he did not practice his profession while in office or give advice against the government’s position.

“There is nothing wrong if we advertise our names. As long as you do not practice and you do not help people get something from government, that is illegal,” he said.  

Duterte also said he inherited his wealth from his mother, Soledad, and that she even fed him even when he was the mayor of Davao City.

“Maski na noong mayor na ako, ang nagpapakain sa akin nanay ko. ‘Yung nanay ko ang may pera (even when I was mayor, my mother was feeding me. My mother had money),” he said.

“SALN? Hindi naman niyo pagod ‘yun. Ikaw ba napagod? Bakit ko ilagay sa SALN? (You did not work for that money. Were you the one who earned it? Why should I put it in my SALN?)” he added.

The President said the journalists behind the report were just paid to do the report.

“Pera-pera lang ‘yan. Binabayaran ‘yan kung ganun kalaki (It’s all about money. They get paid huge sums if the story is that big),” he said.

The PCIJ said in a statement they made efforts to get the side of the Dutertes before the story ran.

“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,” PCIJ Executive Director Malou 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, Mr. Duterte should turn his attention at his deputies, notably Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for the failure of the Office of the President to attend to PCIJ’s request letters, over the last five month,” she added.  

The PCIJ stressed that the report was built on the Dutertes’ declarations in their SALNs, and data from official government records. – Robie de Guzman

Duterte won’t compromise on quarantine protocols for returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.

“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.

The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.

“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.

The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.

“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.

“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.

Duterte OKs grant of one-time P20K aid to employees’ compensation pensioners

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the grant of one-time financial aid of P20,000 to qualified pensioners under the employees’ compensation (EC) program.

Under Administrative Order (AO) No. 39, which was signed on Monday, Duterte authorized the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) to grant the cash aid to EC pensioners for permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, and survivorship, in the private and public sectors, “subject to the availability of funds and pertinent laws, rules and regulations.”

Duterte directed the ECC, Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to set aside and release appropriate funding to cover the financial assistance from the Social Insurance Fund under the EC Program.

The ECC, in coordination with the SSS and GSIS, will issue the implementing rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of the order.

In signing the AO, Duterte recognized that the “adverse effects of the pandemic on the economy, supplementary health necessities for the battle against the virus, and restrictions imposed on our mobility and social interaction, have increased the financial and health burdens experienced by the EC pensioners.

The one-time cash aid will be granted to around 31,000 pensioners of the SSS and GSIS.

Duterte said AO 39 will take effect following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Statements of ‘alter-egos’ also reflect Duterte’s stand on West PH Sea issue — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said there is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to speak on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, saying the strong statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) also reflects the president’s stance on the issue.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement to dispel notions that Duterte has been silent on the reported number of Chinese vessels still lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Doctrine of qualified political doctrine, kapag po hindi dini-dis-own ng president ang mga sinasabi ng kaniyang mga alter-egos, parang siya na po ang nagsasalita, hindi na kailangang siya ang magsalita,” Roque said in an online briefing.

The Palace official was referring to a Constitutional Doctrine which states that “utterances of alter egos are utterances of the President unless the president renounces them.”

Roque also reiterated that Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also repeatedly fired off diplomatic protests and called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

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