Press Release
September 7, 2021

Dispatch from Crame No. 1141:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on Duterte's Secret SALN


Last year I asked my lawyers to request for the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of President Duterte from Malacañang. As expected, Malacañang refused and told them to go to the Ombudsman.

So my lawyers went to the Ombudsman early this year and, again, requested for the President's SALN. After several months, the Ombudsman replied to their request in the negative.

It was a straightforward request that, in past administrations, would have not met such elusive treatment, nor would even be necessary, given the fact that a President and his Cabinet are expected to voluntarily publish their SALNs for the scrutiny of the public. At least, that was the case before Duterte. That is what we did under the leadership of President Noynoy Aquino. I am sure anyone in our Cabinet who did not disclose his or her SALN then would have raised eyebrows not only from the public but also from other public officials as well.

This practice of disclosing SALNs is also observed by the Senate, that is why we always have the list of the richest to poorest senators. Sen. Bong Go should have, by now, already submitted at least two SALNs, one for 2019 and another for 2020. I don't think the public disclosure of his SALN was such a big deal. He seems to have been able to do it without much effort or fanfare.

The problem, however, is with his boss. Why is Duterte's SALN more difficult to access than anyone else's when, as the highest official of the land, he is expected to be more, not less, transparent and accountable than anybody else? If we cannot have access to the President's SALN, then why are we even still pretending to be a Republican government? Why don't we just declare ourselves to be a monarchy or a dictatorship, so at least our citizens will no longer expect their leaders to still be accountable to the people?

Accountability of public officers is deemed so critical in our system of government, that our Constitution devotes an entire Article on it, consisting of 18 Sections. Publicly disclosing one's SALN is the least that is expected of public officials to meet the requirements of accountability, as mandated under the Constitution.

It is just the first step. A lot more is expected after that. The solution to an official refusing to disclose his SALN is, therefore, simple. Get out of government. Government does not need officials hiding their wealth from the people. Hidden wealth is the surest sign of a kleptocracy.

With the Pharmally scandal and Duterte's secret SALN, a kleptocracy is what this government amounts to nowadays. And the Filipinos wouldn't want a kleptomaniac in charge of their tax money. ###

(Access the handwritten version, here:

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