PCIJ to Duterte: Explain wealth instead of losing your cool

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) responded to what it called President Rodrigo Duterte’s “broadsides” aimed at PCIJ's recent reports on the Duterte family’s wealth, saying there was no reason for the President to “lose his cool.” 

“The PCIJ report was built on the Dutertes' own declarations in their SALNs (Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) and data from official government records,” said PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas in a letter sent to media groups.

“PCIJ had wished only for the Dutertes to offer clear, direct, straightforward replies to our queries. Instead of blaming PCIJ for the report. Mr Duterte should turn his attention [to] his deputies, notably Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for the failure of [the] Office of the President to attend to PCIJ's request letters, over the last 5 months.”

On Saturday, April 6, the President claimed it was money driving investigative reports. While he did not mention PCIJ by name, the comments were made in the aftermath of the investigative group’s three-part report, "The Dutertes: Wealth Reveal & Riddles." 

"Makita mo 'yung utak ng mga investigative journalism kaya.... Pera-pera lang. Binabayaran 'yan kung gano'n kalaki. Pati nung lawyering ko," said the President.

(Look at how those in investigative journalism think.... It's all about money. They get paid a huge sum if the story is that big. They even included my lawyering.)

The series reported that members of the Duterte family may have participated in conflicts of interest, declared assets inconsistentlywere affiliated with an unregistered law firm, were found with “sudden, sharp” increases in wealth while in public office, and emerged from elections with their personal funds largely intact.

The President said his late mother, Soledad Roa Duterte, was responsible for the family’s wealth.

"Putang ina ninyo. Hoy, 'yung mga dilaw, all the time I was with my mother. Maski na noong mayor na ako, ang nagpapakain sa akin nanay ko. 'Yung nanay ko ang may pera. 'Yun ang nanay ko nag-iwan ng pera sa amin. Pero kung magkano, eh bakit sabihin ko sa inyo?" asked Duterte.

(You sons of whores. You yellows, I was with my mother all the time. Even when I was still mayor, it was my mother who fed me. My mother was the one who had the money. It was my mother who left money for us. But as to how much, why would I tell you?) 

Better to have responded

PCIJ said it has reported on the wealth and the controversies of 5 presidents before Duterte: Benigno Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, Fidel Ramos, and Corazon Aquino. 

PCIJ detailed its efforts to solicit comments from the Duterte camp in letters sent beginning October 2018. According to Mangahas, it would have been “far better had Mr Duterte, daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara, and son and former Davao City vice mayor Paolo granted PCIJ's request for comments, and possibly sit-down interviews, before the story ran.”

"Eh ngayon, tinitira kami ng mga anak ko. All about lawyering. Ano ba naman pakialam nila na what happened to my law office?" Duterte said in Iloilo City.

(Now, my children and I are being attacked. All about lawyering. What do they care about what happened to my law office?)

Among its findings, PCIJ reported that “the President, Sara, and Paolo separately and together offer a muddled mix of token or opaque data” in their SALNs. (READ: The Duterte wealth: Unregistered law firm, undisclosed biz interests, rice import deal for creditor

PCIJ found spikes in the net worth of Duterte and his children. PCIJ said the President, Sara, and Paolo “have all consistently grown richer over the years, even on the modest salaries they have received for various public posts, and despite the negligible retained earnings reflected in the financial statements of the companies they own or co-own.” The numbers, said the investigative group, “do not seem to add up.” – Rappler.com