Thursday, September 03, 2009

Arroyos still need to explain wealth rise

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her two sons in Congress still have a lot of explaining to do regarding the rise in their wealth since they stepped into public office, an opposition lawmaker said Wednesday.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said the Arroyos should personally explain the wealth stated in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) when the House, through House Resolution 1358, holds an inquiry into the effectiveness of SALNs in determining public officials' real net worth.

"It has never been adequately explained how in just three years, from 2002 to 2005, Mikey increased his net worth by P71.9 million, or from P5 million to P76.9 million. And then in 2009, this further increased to P99 million. Definitely, he could not have amassed such wealth on his salary as a public official. But his SALN fails to indicate how he did it," said Casiño.

Mikey’s wealth reportedly ballooned from the time he got married to wife Angela in June 2002 and became Pampanga vice governor in 2001-04. He was elected congressman for Pampanga’s 2nd district in 2004 and got re-elected in 2007.

In an interview over GMA's Unang Hirit on Tuesday, Mikey said a large part of his recent wealth came from generous wedding gifts and campaign donors.

Alam niyo nung kinasal tayo nuon, medyo nagkaroon tayo ng maraming regalo. Tapos pag kampanya, siyempre kahit papaano marami ding tumutulong sa atin. Hindi naman sa nakaipon, pero siyempre nakakagaan ng kaunti and we had some good investments," he explained.

(You know, when I married my wife, we received plenty of gifts. And during campaign periods, we had plenty of donors. It’s not that we hoarded donations but these helped lessen our personal expenses and we were able to make good investments).

The presidential son also said, “In 2002, I was a vice governor. I only became congressman in 2004, under the law assuming you make mistakes in your SAL, you can always amend it the next year as long as you pay the proper taxes," he explained.

Hindi pa tayo marunong mag-declare nun, so siyempre those shortcomings are amended the next year," the Pampanga representative added.

But Casiño said the First Family's explanations of their wealth were insufficient. "If we simply look at their SALN, the logical conclusion is that these unexplained wealth could have come from illegal sources, or at least were acquired without proper disclosure."

The militant lawmaker said the President has also failed to explain the dramatic increase in her net worth from P67 million in 2001 to P144 million in 2008.

"We need the Arroyos to explain what happened so that Congress can be guided in coming up with legislation on how to improve the system. If it is true, as Mikey says, that everything was legal and transparent but there just might have been some mistakes by his lawyer who filled up the form, then he should not fear the House investigation. We can even help in making sure he does not commit any mistakes the next time around," Casiño added.

Questions arose over the SALNs of Mikey and his brother, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" Macapagal Arroyo, following a Vera Files report saying the brought luxury US homes in the US after they got elected as congressmen. The two, however, denied any irregularity in their SALNs and maintained that they declared everything that needed to be declared.

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