Was Revilla’s Senate staff truthful in SALN?

Aries C. Rufo

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Lawyer Richard Cambe has been in heavy debt for the past 4 years, according to his SALN

MANILA, Philippines – Something does not add up in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of this particular staff of one senator dragged into the pork barrel scam.

Lawyer Richard Cambe, chief political staff of Sen Bong Revilla, has been in heavy debt for the past 4 years, with his liabilities exceeding his assets based on his SALN from 2009 to 2012.

In fact, his 2012 SALN showed his net worth at a negative P4.9 million, a far cry from the supposed millions of kickbacks that he allegedly received in Revilla’s behalf from alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, Janet Lim Napoles.

The SALN, which is sworn under oath under pain of perjury, indicates the assets, liabilities, net worth, business interests and financial connections of a government employee. The submission of SALNs is required under RA 6713, one of the first legislations passed under the post-Marcos regime. As a paper trail, it has been used as an effective tool in uncovering hidden and illegally acquired wealth of certain government officials.

In 2012, Cambe declared assets totaling P6.17 million and incurred liabilities of P11.07 million. Liabilities include personal loans amounting to P5 million, mortgage loans of P5.720 million, and credit card advances of P300,000.

P787-M pork barrel

Pork barrel whistleblower Benhur Luy said he recorded a total of P224,512,500 representing kickbacks for Revilla in exchange for his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2006-2010. The kickbacks were allegedly coursed through Cambe.

The amount, however, appears understated as it does not include kickbacks that Napoles supposedly personally delivered to the senators without the knowledge of the whistleblower.

Based on Luy’s record, a total of P757 million of Revilla’s pork barrel was coursed through non-governmental organizations controlled by Napoles from 2006-2010. This excludes another P30 million of Revilla’s PDAF that went to Napoles-linked NGOs in 2012. In all, P787 million of Revilla’s pork barrel was funneled to Napoles NGOs.

Luy told a Senate Blue Ribbon hearing that the COS or representatives of senators involved in the pork barrel — at least those who were under the scheme of Napoles — got 1% commission or as Napoles desired. It is not clear if the 1% commission is taken from the total amount of PDAF or from the kickbacks to the senator.

Whatever the case, Cambe’s SALNs tell a different story.

Negative net worth?

Rappler obtained copies of Cambe’s SALN from 2007 to 2012. If the contents were to be taken at face value, he went from being a millionaire to someone wallowing in debt.

In his 2007 SALN, Cambe’s net worth was P1.088 million. He declared an annual gross income of P309,168 as Director III under Revilla’s office. His wife, Jacquiline, is also proprietor of Wilbur Store.

In his 2008 SALN, it was unclear how much Cambe’s net worth was, but his liabilities jumped to P2.8 million compared to P1.1 million the previous year. His annual salary however increased to P404,268.

By 2009, Cambe reported a negative net worth of P900,000. Based on his itemized declaration of assets and personal properties, total assets amounted to P2.9  million. On the other hand, his accumulated liabilities, which included bank and personal loans, amounted to P3.8 million.

Also that year, the Cambe couple opened another business, Pkoy Trading. His wife is also stockholder of One 6 Corp and of the Rural Bank of San Felipe in Zambales.

In 2010, Cambe reported being in debt by P1.890 million, with total liabilities rising to P6.3 million versus his assets of P4.41 million. In 2011, he was deeper in debt, registering P2.83 million in negative net worth.

In his 2012 SALN, Cambe’s liabilities further spiked to P11.07 million, resulting in a negative net worth of P4.9 million.

Among the 38 charged

Cambe is among the 38 individuals charged with plunder before the Ombudsman, based on the evidence and testimonies of whistleblowers who were employees of Napoles.

Seven other staff or conduits of senators were among those charged. Cambe, who started working for Revilla in 2004, has reportedly taken a leave of absence.

Based on the testimonies of witnesses, the senators’ staff or their representatives actively participated in the scam,  not only as conduits of the kickbacks but also as individuals who prepared documents that facilitated the release of their principals’ PDAF. – with reports from Rey Santos Jr./Rappler.com


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