MANILA (Aug. 12) — Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday asked for full disclosure on the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and New Worth (SALN) of President Arroyo to erase doubts and end speculations that she had amassed ill-gotten wealth since she took power in 2001.
“The right thing to do for anyone in public office is to reveal all necessary documents that will explain any seeming discrepancy relating to the SAL. Any stonewalling or hedging will only fuel speculations about the source of one’s assets,” he said.
Escudero said President Arroyo must set the example for all as he cited reports that token compliance with the requirements of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) resulted in jail terms, stiff fines, and dismissal or suspension from work of public officials.
The law requires all public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, to file under oath their SALN and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
The two documents should contain any real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value; personal property and acquisition cost; all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like; liabilities, and all business interests and financial connections.
Escudero noted that there are many limitations set by law to discourage any President from taking advantage of the position to advance personal ends.
According to the PCIJ report, President Arroyo’s declared net worth more than doubled (pegged only on the book or acquisition value of her assets), from P66.8 million in 2001 to P143.54 million in 2008. The increase of P76.74 million represents a growth rate of 114%.
If her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) are plotted from 17 years ago when she first served as senator, Arroyo’s declared wealth charts an exponential growth of 2,000%, it said.
“It looks like the increase in (President Arroyo’s) wealth is higher than what one would ordinarily get from interest earned from bank deposits or the ordinary return on investment from any business,” he said.
“The best thing to do now is full disclosure. If there is a reasonable explanation as they claim, then they should come out with it. The people deserve nothing less,” Escudero said