File photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte and daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. A report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism revealed that the incomes of Duterte and his children Sara and former vice mayor Paolo Duterte rose significantly while they were in office.
Presidential file photo
Palace challenges PCIJ, Sereno: File charges vs Duterte, children
Alexis Romero ( - April 9, 2019 - 3:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Tuesday challenged former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) to file charges against President Rodrigo Duterte and his children if they think they have amassed ill-gotten wealth. 

A PCIJ report revealed that the incomes of Duterte and his children Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and former vice mayor Paolo Duterte rose significantly while they were in office. 

Duterte, Sara and Paolo have "consistently grown richer over the years" despite the modest salaries they got for various government posts and the "negligible" retained earnings from the companies they own or co-own, the report said. 

Citing data from SALNs filed by Duterte, PCIJ said the president's net worth jumped by 195% from P9.69 million in 2007 to P28.54 million in 2017. Paolo's net worth increased by 233% from P8.34 million to P27.74 million two years ago while that of Sara rose by 518% from P7.25 million to P44.83 million. 

Sereno, whose appointment as chief justice was voided for failing to submit some of her SALNs, has asked Duterte to explain the increases in his income, noting that officials should display a "simple lifestyle."

But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the law does not require officials to justify the increases in their income. 

"The law requires public officials to file their SALN. PRRD already did that. The law does not require the filer to explain the increases in their income, if there are," Panelo said in a text message.

"If PCIJ and Sereno believe that the increases are ill gotten wealth they should file the appropriate charges," he added. 

Last Monday, Panelo claimed Duterte properly declared all his assets. 

"With respect to the wealth being referred to, they have been properly declared as admitted by...that group. What is prohibited is when you do not declare your assets. 

But he has declared them, so what’s the hullabaloo?" Panelo said in a press briefing in Malacañang. 

"If he did not declare, that’s the time you should be explaining, and you should be prosecuted for not putting that in the SALN," he added. 

Duterte has assailed the PCIJ over its report, saying what he and his children earned outside the government is none of the media outlet's business. The president has also accused PCIJ of being "paid hacks."

PCIJ has denied that its report was funded by the opposition, noting that it also reported about the wealth of previous presidents. The award-winning news organization said it would have been far better had Duterte and his children granted its request for comments and sit-down interviews before the story ran. 

PCIJ has also reported that Duterte had formed the Fabiosa Duterte Cimafranca Carcedo Law Firm but the firm never appeared in any of his SALNs. The report also claimed that Carpio & Duterte Lawyers entity, which has presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and husband Manases Carpio as partners, was created over ten years ago but has not registered at all with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Panelo has said it was possible that the law firm formed by the president is no longer existing.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has said the Office of the President (OP) does not have the SALNs requested by PCIJ.

"The SALNs covered by their request have been submitted years before (Duterte) became president and are not in the possession of OP," Medialdea said in a text message. 

Medialdea als accused Duterte's critics of nitpicking on the president's SALN. 

"They (critics) have tried to make an issue out of even the minutest detail in hopes to pin the president for some wrongdoing but to their dismay their efforts had all failed," the executive secretary said.  

"The president remains committed to his cause to eradicate corruption and rid of the govt of corrupt officials. We have seen heads roll from lowly rank and file employees to heads of departments and agencies. He can look these people he fired in the eye because he is not tainted with corruption," he added.

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