Tugade defends offshore accounts

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
Tugade defends offshore accounts
This file photo shows Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade defended yesterday his family’s offshore investments as revealed in the “Pandora Papers” investigation, saying such were a legitimate attempt to grow their financial portfolio.

In a statement, Tugade said he is not hiding anything and that the offshore investments were disclosed in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).

“Yes, this is a matter of public record and the subject offshore investments in Solart Holdings was a financial move that was established long before I joined the government,” he said.

He said Solart Holdings was organized in 2003 to hold a portion of his family’s cash assets.

Tugade served as president of Clark Development Corp. before he was appointed secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in 2016.

According to the transport chief, having some of his family’s savings invested in Solart Holdings was a legitimate attempt to grow their financial portfolio “like what any astute and judicious entrepreneurs would do to diversify their investments.”

“We decided to have a portion of our savings invested outside the Philippines, which is valid and legal,” Tugade said.

Tugade said the investment has consistently been disclosed in his SALN from 2012 to 2020 under “personal properties-intangible,” particularly as “offshore investments.”

The account “barely moved” during the said period, according to Tugade.

“As an appointed public servant, I have taken an oath to uphold transparency, honesty, integrity and good governance. These are cherished values that I personally believe in and I have made it a lifelong commitment to sustain and carry around myself,” he said.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Rappler on Monday reported that Tugade has been keeping an offshore company while occupying government posts in the last eight years.

The report said Tugade did not declare the offshore investments in his list of businesses, as required of public officials.

They said Tugade has disclosed offshore investments worth P57 million as assets every year since 2012, “but no details about these investments have been declared, except these were acquired in 2003.”

An “open letter” posted by Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran on Facebook denounced the PCIJ and Rappler report, saying that it is “false, misleading and downright defamatory.”

“We take strong exception and will not take lightly this apparently well-oiled and orchestrated effort to malign and discredit the good image and reputation of Secretary Tugade and his family,” the letter read.

“We give emphasis to the fact that whatever Secretary Tugade has is a product of his decades of hard work and perseverance, which are exemplified by his no-nonsense leadership, character and untarnished credibility,” it added.

The letter further said the “imputation are clearly intended to besmirch Tugade’s character.”

“Consider this as a stern warning and an assertion that our lawyers will exert all necessary effort, to the fullest extent of the law, to find those behind the malicious and irresponsible publication of this report,” the letter said.

“We pray that whoever or whatever entity is behind this black propaganda is not doing this because Secretary Tugade is now perceived as legitimate threat and a stumbling block to their political aspirations,” it added.

Tugade has yet to decide on his plans to run for senator. – Ding Cervantes

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