Is it because his SALNs won’t be able to explain why his wealth grew from P600,000 to over P200 million without him paying any estate tax?
By Raissa Robles
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has said that if he becomes president, he will not release his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).
Are there too many problematic, hard to explain items in his SALNs?
Bongbong justified the non-release by saying that government officials deserved a certain amount of protection from “political enemies [who] “would make up issues over SALNs even when there was none.”
Was he referring to himself?
Bongbong Marcos held public office from:
- 1992 to 1995 as mayor,
- 1998 to 2007 as governor,
- 2007 to 2010 as congressman,
- 2010 to 2016 as senator.
His public service was interrupted from 1995 to 1998 following his tax conviction and when the Court of Appeals ruled that his crime of non-filing of tax returns was not “mortal turpitude” he ran in 1998 and won as governor.
When his first six-year term as senator expired in 2016, he could have run for re-election but instead ran for vice-president but lost.
Presumably he filed SALNs for each of those years he was in office. I managed to get copies of his 2011 and 2014 SALNs.
What exactly is a SALN?
What would Bongbong’s 2014 SALN tell us about his personal wealth?
And why is it so important for the Philippines to make all SALNs of those in government – not just Bongbong’s – publicly available?
The first SALN Law was passed by Congress in 1960, not to protect those in government from their enemies but to protect the Filipino people from thieving public officials and employees.
Thieving government officials has been our problem since our Republic was born in 1946.
That’s why the original SALN Law or Republic Act 3019 was called the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”
After the Filipino people threw out the Marcos family from Malacanang Palace, the SALN Law was strengthened by RA 6713 to include the lessons learned from the repressive and kleptomaniac rule of Bongbong’s father.
I know this personally because I was then covering the Senate when Senate President Jovito Salonga pushed for the approval of RA 6713. It was his pet bill and it incorporated what he had learned as chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government which then President Corazon Aquino created to sequester all of the Marcos’ family’s ill-gotten assets.
Among the lessons learned from Marcos’ grand theft was that for the SALN to work like a mosquito spray against corruption, all SALNs had to be made publicly available.
That is why RA 6713 has a section which clearly states that “any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public…for copying or reproduction” but “at reasonable hours” especially for “news” purposes but not for commercial use.
At first glance, a SALN is a rather boring legal document. It details the Net Worth or personal wealth of any government worker – appointed or elected.
Net Worth is calculated by adding up every asset owned like houses, real estate, jewelry, paintings, cars, etc., then deducting all utang or unpaid borrowings like mortgage or housing finance schemes.
But you see, a SALN is like the hard nut of a coconut tree. To extract the oil from the coconut, you first have to process the coconut meat.
In the case of Bongbong – or any public official or employee for that matter – the way to process the SALN is:
- to compare the details in his SALNs to any public verifiable statements he has said regarding his personal wealth; and to
- to compare the details in his SALN to his previous SALNs.
So as not to make this piece very long, I will just do the first part by comparing the details in Bongbong’s 2014 SALN – which he had submitted in April 2015 – to what he said in a TV interview six months later that same year.
The 2015 interview was conducted by veteran news anchors Ces Drilon and Julius Babao on the news program Bandila – a copy of the video is still online.
While comparing his SALN with what he told Ces and Julius, I asked myself – did Bongbong lie to Ces and Julius or did he lie in his SALN about the source of his personal wealth?
Before I go on, let me hasten to add that before any presidential election, I often go to the Senate to obtain SALNs of potential presidential and senatorial candidates. For this current election, I was unable to because for the very first time, the Senate President banned the release of all SALNs to the media, in defiance of RA 6713.
I obtained copies of two of Bongbong’s SALNs in April 2015 as well as those of other senators.
But it was only recently that I confirmed the discrepancy between his TV interview and his SALN when his lawyer, Vic Rodriguez, recently admitted that Bongbong had not paid a single centavo of the estate tax.
That was also the reason why I filed a Freedom of Information request with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to find out if Bongbong had already paid the estate tax.
The BIR turned down my request but recently, Bongbong’s lawyer and spokesman Vic Rodriguez confirmed that the son of the dictator had not paid a single centavo of the tax on his father’s estate.
Why Bongbong’s non-payment of the estate tax matters in finding questionable (kaduda-duda) items in his 2014 SALN
During his 2015 Bandila interview, Ces asked him how he became the third richest senator in 2015 when his personal wealth – as measured by his SALN net worth – was only P600,000 in 1992, when he became congressman upon returning home from exile.
Bongbong credited the explosive rise of his declared wealth to the fact that his family had “won” court cases over his dad’s wealth.
Here is the Q & A between him and Ces:
Ces Drilon: Ngayong taon (2015) po, kayo ang pinaka pangatlong, pinaka mayamang senador.sa inyong Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth na 200 million pesos. Samantalang noong 1992 po ang inyong Net Worth ay P600,000 lang bilang congressman.October 28, 2015 interview of Bongbong Marcos by Ces Drilon and Julius Babao in Bandera
Ang laki ho ng inilaki. Saan galing ho ang kayamanan?
Bongbong: Marami diyan ay mga, mga assets na naipanalo namin sa mga kaso. Kaya’t naman mga lupa, at iba’t-ibang asset yon ang nagdagdag.
Kung titingnan niyo ang pinakauna kong SALN, ay may malaking bahagi doon na nakalagay undetermined. Dahil na nasa korte pa. Yung iba, naresolba na, kaya’t kailangan ko ng ilagay sa SALN ngayon, dahil nakapangalan na sa akin.
Ces Drilon: So ito ang mga kasong naipanalo ninyo. So hindi ito pinaglaban niyo sa korte. Hindi ito nakaw na yaman.
Bongbong Marcos: A hindi. Maliwanag na maliwanag. Nandyan naman sa SALN ko.
Three things struck me about what Bongbong told Ces:
First he said: “Marami diyan (sa SALN) ay mga, mga assets na naipanalo namin sa mga kaso.”
Second, he said: “Yung iba naresolba na, kaya’t kailangan ko ng ilagay sa SALN ngayon, dahil nakapangalan na sa akin.”
And third, he said: “Maliwanag na maliwanag. Nandyan naman sa SALN ko.”
Below is his 2015 video interview. For what I quoted, please start listening at 4 minutes.
Let’s examine his statements one by one.
When he said, “Marami diyan (sa SALN) ay mga, mga assets na naipanalo namin sa mga kaso,” he was talking about the numerous ill-gotten wealth cases the Philippine government had filed over assets his late father stole. I am not using the word “allegedly” because the 2003 landmark Supreme Court decision already made it a settled jurisprudence that any assets beyond the legal income of Ferdinand and Imelda were indeed stolen.
When he said, “Yung iba naresolba na, kaya’t kailangan ko ng ilagay sa SALN ngayon, dahil nakapangalan na sa akin,” he meant that since some of those ill-gotten wealth cases involving his late father’s assets, which were sequestered by the Philippine government had already been resolved, these already formed part of his father’s estate and he, his mom and siblings could inherit or divide these among them these legally.
When he said, “Maliwanag na maliwanag. Nandyan naman sa SALN ko.”
You know what?
It’s not in the SALN he and Ces were talking about.
Based on this particular SALN that he and Ces were talking about, there is no “INHERITED
” property from his dad.
Bongbong specified in the SALN he had filed in 2015 “under oath” that he had either “PURCHASED” most of the properties he owned, or “BUILT” the structures there.
I have posted his SALN at the end of this piece for easy reference.
But then, he had also told Ces – “dahil nakapangalan na sa akin” – meaning, a share of his late dad’s assets had already been transferred to his name, thus making him the legal owner of the assets.
But then, his lawyer Vic Rodriguez recently confirmed that not a single cent of the tax on his late dad’s estate had been paid.
Tax experts, including those trotted up by Marcos supporters, have loudly asserted that the estate tax need not be paid at once. It could be paid years later when the legal titles to the real properties are transferred from the deceased to the heirs.
Bongbong’s lawyer Vic Rodriguez has also argued that since all the ill-gotten wealth cases against his dad have not been resolved, no estate tax should be paid just yet.
For the purpose of examining Bongbong’s SALN, let’s just assume Atty. Rodriguez is correct: No estate tax has been paid.
Non-payment of the estate tax has vast implications on the rise in Bongbong’s personal wealth.
It means he was less than honest to Ces Drilon and Julius Babao since he could not have transferred any assets from the Marcos estate without first paying the estate tax.
And, if what he told Ces and Julius was not true – that the stupendous rise in his wealth was due to “won” cases – then what was the real reason for the rise in his personal wealth?
Does he own a magic money tree?
Is he a very successful CEO with profitable corporations?
2 out of 3 of Bongbong’s firms went bankrupt
Bongbong declared four “business interests” in four corporations:
- MOST Law FIRM (where his wife is partner but he’s not part of it);
- Augustus Management Inc.:
- NIV Holdings Inc.
- SASIVI Holdings Inc.
- Augustus Management, Inc. lost P2.211 million in 2012.
- NIV was bleeding for three straight years. It declared net losses of P5 million in 2008; P4.9 million in 2009; and P7 million in 2010. From 2011 to 2014 it submitted no financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- As for SASIVI, it was set up as a holding company only in 2013 and had not submitted any financial statement in 2014. But being a holding company, we can assume it does not generate any income from operations but obtains profits from investments in other companies or interest earned in bank deposits.
- But since Bongbong’s two other companies – Augustus and NIV – had no earnings, there was no profit to transfer to SASIVI.
- MOST Law Firm is his wife Louise” law firm, where she splits profits with the other partners, net of operations. THAT is the only possible source of Bongbong’s jump in his personal wealth.
Just how wealthy is Bongbong?
To understand in more real terms how rich he is, consider the following:
- his painting collection alone is worth P19 million;
- his jewelry collection alone is worth P15 million; and
- his motor vehicle collection alone is worth P17.65 million
The value of each of these collections is BIGGER than Vice-President Leni Robredo’s disclosed personal Net Worth of P11.9 million.
Bongbong’s earnings as a government official are way below his declared Net Worth
I did a rough calculation of what he could have earned as a government official, basing this on the Salary Standardization Act and SALN disclosures of other elected officials. He was:
- Mayor – 1992 to 1995 – for three years – roughly P7,448,000 earned
- Governor – 1998 to 2007 – for nine years – roughly P22,464,000 earned
- Congressman – 2007 to 2010 – for three years – roughly P11,232,000 earned
- Senator – 2010 to 2014 – for four years – roughly P14,976,000 earned
Based on my calculations, Bongbong earned around P56,160,000 in the 22 years he was mayor, governor, congressman and senator (until 2014). Please check it out for any errors on my part.
Curiously, one of his declared “personal” investments alone exceeds these estimated earnings of P56M.
This is a 600 square-meter residential condo along Ayala Avenue with a declared “acquisition cost” of P78 million which he said was due “for turnover” to him as far back as August 2009.
In addition to these assets I just mentioned, Bongbong also incurred other large ticket expenses:
- He ran for reelection multiple times.
- He sent his three sons to study in the same posh boarding school he went to in the United Kingdom, and then to foreign universities starting at the age of 11 (I picked this up from Boy Abunda’s interview with his wife Louise).
Given all these questions regarding his 2014 SALN, it is understandable he wants to keep his future SALNs secret if he becomes president.
For reasons we can only guess, Bongbong Marcos chose to put a stupendous amount of unexplainable wealth in his 2015 SALN. Then he chose to say he would hide his SALNs from public scrutiny.
Here’s the thing: if he loses his bid for the presidency, the public might demand to know just what those SALNs say, and how he could have acquired such assets without inheriting anything yet from his late dad.●