Duterte: No need to include luxury car gift in my SALN

Camille Elemia
President Rodrigo Duterte says the car isn't under his name yet, and that he has refused to accept it from an unidentified gift-giver

LUXURY GIFT. President Rodrigo Duterte says there is no need to put in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth the Mercedes-Benz he was given as a gift, saying he did not accept it. Photo by Jasmin Dulay/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said there is no need to include in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) a luxury car he was given, as it was not yet registered under his name.

“Hindi ko i-declare ‘yan sa SALN [kasi] hindi pa [naman] na-rehistro sa akin (I will not declare it in my SALN because it is not yet registered under my name),” Duterte said in a press conference on Monday, March 13.

He was referring to a Mercedes-Benz luxury car he said was given to him. He disclosed this on Sunday night, March 12, at a PDP-Laban gathering in Pasay City.

“Hindi ko tinatanggap, lagay ko lang diyan. Interesado ang sinong taxpayer, bilin mo sa gobyerno, ipagbili ko,” he said at the party gathering.

(I did not accept it. I just placed it there. To the taxpayers who are interested, they can buy it from the government. I will sell it.)

When asked Monday who gave him the Mercedes-Benz, he jokingly said: “Huwag ka nang magtanong. Sa girlfriend ko. May mayaman ako na girlfriend noon. Just like ano, she made good. She has millions in America.”

(Don’t ask. It’s from my girlfriend. I had a girlfriend. She made good. She has millions in America.)

He then reminded public officials about the rules covering extravagant gifts.

“Simple lang. Common sense na iyan. Oras na tinanggap mo iyan, graft, because of the amount. Kung ballpen tanggapin ko talaga,” he said.

(It’s just simple. It’s common sense. Once you accept it, it’s graft, because of the amount. If that’s just a ballpen, I would really accept it.)

Parked

Duterte, who ran and won under a platform of change and anti-corruption, said the vehicle is parked in a “private garage” after the unidentified sender refused to accept it back.

“Hindi, kasi isinauli ko, ayaw niyang tanggapin. Alang-alang iiwan ko naman diyan sa San Marcelino (street outside Malacañang), eh ‘di nawala ‘yan bukas. At baka sabihin niya tinanggap ko na. So ayaw mong tanggapin? Sabi ko: Sige, ilagay mo lang diyan,” he said at the press conference.

(No, because I returned it but they refused to take it back. I just can’t leave it there in San Marcelino, it would be gone by tomorrow. And they might say I already accepted it. So you don’t want to accept it back? I said: Okay, leave it there.)

Duterte previously said the car is in the Presidential Security Group (PSG) compound.

“Ito nga totoo eh, nagbigay sa akin Mercedes-Benz, totoo ‘yun. Punta ka sa PSG, nandiyan sa compound…Pero nagmamagandang-loob, sabi ko okay,” the President said on Sunday. 

(This is true. Someone gave me a Mercedes-Benz. Go to the PSG, it’s in their compound. It was out of goodwill, so I said okay.) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com