MANILA - Two of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet members remained billionaires in 2018 while the rest are still multimillionaires, according to their latest sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).
The two richest Cabinet members—Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi—declared their net worth to be P1.408 billion and P1.39 billion, respectively, as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to documents ABS-CBN News obtained from Malacañang.
The SALN is a declaration under oath of a public official or employee’s assets, liabilities and net worth, as well as financial and business interests including those of the spouse and unmarried children below 18 years who are living in the same household.
All public officials and employees, whether regular or temporary, are required by law to submit their SALNs annually.
Villar’s net worth in 2018 is 0.06 percent higher than the P1.407 billion net worth he declared in 2017. Comprising the biggest chunk of Villar’s assets are “other real and personal properties” worth P1.23 billion.
He disclosed only one business interest: Maxihome Land and Development Inc., a real estate firm based in Quezon City. In his 2018 SALN, Villar declared that he has been a shareholder of the company since 2009.
Cusi’s 2018 net worth meanwhile, is 2.2 percent higher than his P1.36 billion net worth in 2017. Cusi became a billionaire in 2017, when his net worth spiked to P1.36 billion from only P162.7 million in 2016—a 733-percent increase.
Sought for comment, the Energy Department’s Public Affairs Bureau attributed the spike in Cusi’s net worth in 2017 to the sale of a company owned by Cusi’s family.
“The sudden increase in Secretary Cusi’s net worth is due to the sale of Starlite Ferries, Inc. (SFI) to Chelsea Logistics Corporation in November 2017. SFI is a family-owned and controlled corporation,” Jive Bullock, head of DOE’s Public Affairs Bureau, said in a text message.
Cusi declared six business interests in his 2018 SALN: Starlite Marine/Starlite Holdings, Four Star Corp., Dockside Port Terminals & Marine Services, Inc., Quick-stop Convenience Store, Data Genesis Solutions Inc., and PMC Finance & Investment Corp.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez is the third richest Cabinet member in 2018, with a declared net worth of P366.78 million. This is 8.5 percent higher than the previous year.
Villar, Cusi, and Dominguez were also the three richest Cabinet members in 2017.
Two-thirds of the Cabinet members, or 16 out of 25, saw an increase in their net worth in 2018 compared to the year prior, while the net worth of three Cabinet members declined.
The SALNs of six other Cabinet members were not among ABS-CBN’s files, as they were appointed to the Cabinet only in 2018.
Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato De la Peña declared the lowest net worth among Cabinet members in 2018 at P5.03 million. His net worth declined by 33.5 percent from P7.56 million in 2017—the sharpest decline among the Cabinet members.
This is mainly due to a slash in his real properties. The value of his inherited “residential and commercial” and “agricultural house and lot” in Bulacan were not included in his declared real properties in 2018.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Isidro Lapeña declared the highest liabilities among the Cabinet members at P54.66 million.
He is followed by Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Alexei Nograles and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, whose liabilities in 2018 were P31.61 million and P22.80 million, respectively.
The filing of the SALN is required by the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Aside from the April 30 deadline for its annual filing, the SALN should also be filed within 30 days upon assumption of office and within 30 days upon separation from the service.
Through the SALN, the public can track sudden changes in the wealth of public officials and identify real and potential conflicts of interest. The SALN is supposed to be a tool through which public officials can show that they have not used their positions to enrich themselves.