SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar kept her rank as the country’s wealthiest senator last year with a net worth of P3.814 billion, beating international boxing legend Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao by more than half-a-billion pesos.
The end-December net worth of Ms. Villar, wife of tycoon Manuel Villar, Jr., rose from P3.534 billion in June last year, according to a summary of lawmakers’ net worth posted on the Senate website.
Mr. Pacquiao’s net worth rose to P3.172 billion from P3.005 billion a year earlier.
Among the richest senators were Senator Ralph G. Recto (P567 million), Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri (P203 million) and Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. (P176 million).
Also in the top 10 were Senators Juan Edgardo M. Angara (P142 million), Franklin M. Drilon (P102 million), Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares (P97 million), Sherwin T. Gatchalian (P95 million) and Pia S. Cayetano (P82 million).
Jailed Senator Leila M. de Lima, whom the government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte had accused of amassing wealth from the illegal drug trade, had the least with P8.3 million, followed by Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel with P16 million and Christopher Lawrence T. Go with P18 million.
Completing the list were Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III (P77 million), Richard J. Gordon (P71.207 million), Manuel L. Lapid (P70.9 million), Francis N. Tolentino (P61 million), Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay (P60 million), Panfilo M. Lacson (P48.9 million), Aquilino L. Pimentel III (P36 million), Imee R. Marcos (P34 million), Ronald M. dela Rosa (P33 million), Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva (P30 million) and Francis N. Pangilinan (P19.9 million).
All the senators’ net worth rose except for Mr. Gatchalian and Mr. Gordon, whose net worth fell from P96 million and P71.285 million in December 2018, respectively, and Mr. Tolentino, from P62 million in June 2019.
Under a memo issued by the Ombudsman in September, an official’s net worth report can only be released to his authorized representative or upon a court order related to a case. Ombudsman field investigators may also request copies of the statements.
The Ombudsman order also excludes journalists from obtaining copies of the statements.
Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires earlier told a House budget hearing he had stopped conducting lifestyle checks given vague standards in the country’s Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Critics have faulted President Rodrigo R. Duterte for failing to disclose his net worth despite his vow of transparency.
He has broken a long tradition of presidents making their annual wealth disclosures public year after year, often even without a formal request from the press or the public to do so, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said in a report this month.
When Mr. Duterte took office in 2016, he promised a more transparent government, but that has not happened, it said.
PCIJ said its requests for the President’s wealth records had been tossed back and forth between the Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the President.
Since the law requiring public officials to disclose their net worth was enacted in 1989, all five presidents before Mr. Duterte had disclosed their worth year on year without fail, PCIJ said.
Government officials were supposed to have filed their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for last year on April 30. The deadline was extended to June 30 amid a coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Martires is a two-time appointee of Mr. Duterte. He was first appointed Supreme Court Justice in 2017 and as Ombudsman in 2018.
Meanwhile, a bloc of opposition congressmen disclosed their net worth despite the Ombudsman memo.
Party-list Rep. Ferdinand R. Gaite had a net worth of P3.7 million, while Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate had P1.8 million. Partylist Rep. France L. Castro had a net worth of P1.2 million.
Party-list Rep. Eufemia C. Cullamat had a net worth of P35,000, making her the poorest among the six members of the House Makabayan bloc, replacing the position once kept by Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane I. Elago, who now had a net worth of P104,400. Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, who is also part of the bloc, had yet to disclose her net worth. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza