Cusi is sole billionaire in Duterte Cabinet at end of 2021

Michael Bueza

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Cusi is sole billionaire in Duterte Cabinet at end of 2021

HIGHEST NET WORTH. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Department of Energy's Facebook page

Among the heads of executive departments, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista has the lowest net worth in 2021 so far, while at least 4 have a declared net worth between P100 million and P500 million, based on SALNs obtained by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In the first nine months of 2021, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and then-Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Mark Villar were still the only two members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet with a net worth of over P1 billion.

But with Villar’s exit from the DPWH to pursue a senatorial bid in the 2022 elections, Cusi became the sole billionaire by the end of 2021.

The “richest” Cabinet member for the third year in a row, Cusi declared a net worth of P1,489,460,343 in 2021, a 1.83% increase from the P1.46 billion he declared in 2020. The increase was attributed to the additional P26.8 million in the “cash, placements, jewelries, furniture, and fixtures” item under his personal properties.

Meanwhile, Villar had a net worth of P1,398,184,229 as of October 5, 2021, a day before he officially stepped down from office. This amount is lower by 0.3% compared to his end-2020 net worth of P1.402 billion.

Villar resigned as DPWH chief to run for senator. He won in the May 2022 polls, ranking sixth. Then-Southern Leyte representative Roger Mercado replaced Villar in an acting capacity.

Before becoming part of the Duterte Cabinet, Cusi and Villar were already wealthy, with the energy chief coming from the shipping and logistics industry, and Villar from the real estate industry.

Their net worth declarations for 2021 are based on the copies of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of Duterte Cabinet members obtained by Rappler from the Malacañang Records Office (MRO) on Monday, June 13.

So far, the 2021 SALNs of 36 Cabinet and Cabinet-level members as well as of heads of agencies directly under the Office of the President (OP) are available from the MRO.

Among the heads of executive departments, at least four have declared a net worth between P100 million and P500 million in 2021:

  • Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III – P354,121,757
  • Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade – P338,184,251
  • Health Secretary Francisco Duque III – P145,041,905
  • Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. – P107,588,979

Of the four, only Dominguez’s net worth decreased, but just slightly, by 4.21% compared to 2020.

Two Cabinet-level officials also had a net worth in the P100 million-P500 million range: Presidential Adviser to the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino (with P163,847,994.98) and Commission on Filipinos Overseas chief Francisco Acosta (with P129,683,100).

On the other hand, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista had the lowest net worth among executive department heads, with only P11,240,695.75 in 2021. This was lower by P4.04 million compared to the P15,283,099 he reported in 2020. The decrease was observed in the “cash and bank deposit” item in his list of personal properties.

Bautista was followed by former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary Wendel Avisado, who reported a net worth of P13.778 million as of August 12, 2021, unchanged from his 2020 SALN.

Avisado stepped down in August due to health reasons. Undersecretary Tina Canda was made officer-in-charge of DBM, but her SALN was not yet among the ones that Rappler obtained on Monday.

Among all 36 officials on the list, however, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) chairman Arsenio Lizaso has the lowest net worth in 2021 so far, with just P1,743,014.80.

Below is the list of Cabinet members, Cabinet-level officials, and heads of agencies directly under OP with available copies of SALNs released to Rappler, and their declared net worth in 2021.

Their positions are either as of December 2021 or the last post they held before leaving the Cabinet. The rate of increase or decrease from their 2020 net worth is also indicated. The rows shaded in light orange represent executive departments.

Office/Position Secretary/Head of Office Net worth, 2021
(in pesos)
Versus 2020
DOEAlfonso Cusi1,489,460,343.00
DPWHMark Villar (resigned)11,398,184,229.00
(as of October 5)
DOFCarlos Dominguez III354,121,757.00
DOTrArthur Tugade338,184,251.00
Presidential Adviser for the VisayasMichael Lloyd Dino163,847,994.98
DOHFrancisco Duque III145,041,905.00
CFOFrancisco Acosta129,683,100.00
DFATeodoro Locsin Jr.107,588,979.00
OSGJose Calida73,390,661.12
DAWilliam Dar69,960,000.00
Executive SecretarySalvador Medialdea64,341,948.13
DPWHRoger Mercado (in acting capacity)62,732,000.00
Chief Presidential Legal CounselJesus Melchor Quitain258,713,640.00
GCGSamuel Dagpin Jr.47,653,061.19
DTIRamon Lopez46,800,000.00
DOTBernadette Puyat45,484,022.92
DENRRoy Cimatu34,642,869.00
PCTCAlfred Corpus31,884,439.31
NEDAKarl Kendrick Chua30,726,566.00
CCCEmmanuel de Guzman30,316,000.00
National Security CouncilHermogenes Esperon Jr.29,745,000.00
PLLOLuzverfeda Pascual29,461,000.00
CHEDJ. Prospero de Vera29,016,258.00
NICAAlex Paul Monteagudo27,745,000.00
DNDDelfin Lorenzana24,684,000.00
PMSFerdinand Cui Jr.21,279,465.23
Presidential Adviser on Political AffairsJacinto Paras17,205,700.00
DOLESilvestre Bello III17,100,000.00
Cabinet SecretaryKarlo Alexei Nograles16,335,209.74
DepEdLeonor Briones16,082,584.96
PACCFortunato Guerrero15,919,000.00
MTRCBJeremiah Jaro14,315,400.00
DBMWendel Avisado (resigned)313,778,000.00
(as of August 12)
no change
DSWDRolando Bautista11,240,695.75
Presidential Adviser for OFWsAbdullah Mama-o6,169,672.48
NCCAArsenio Lizaso1,743,014.08

1 Villar resigned from DPWH to run for senator.
2 Quitain is concurrently OIC Special Assistant to the President. He became chief presidential legal counsel in October 2021 after the resignation of Salvador Panelo to run for senator.
3 Avisado resigned from DBM due to health reasons.
* Rappler has yet to obtain their 2020 SALNs for comparison purposes.
** Mercado, Guerrero, and Jaro were appointed after their predecessors resigned in October to run in the 2022 elections. The 2020 SALN of Mercado, who was Southern Leyte representative before assuming office as acting DPWH secretary, was not readily available for comparison purposes.
*** Position held in acting capacity.

So far, Bautista had the biggest percentage decrease in net worth compared to 2020, with a drop of 26.45%.

The biggest percentage increase, however, was logged in the SALN of then-Presidential Adviser for OFWs Abdullah Mama-o. From P2,602,731.18 in 2020, Mama-o’s net worth went up to P6,169,672.48 in 2021, or a 137% jump. Still, Mama-o had the second lowest net worth among those with SALNs made available to Rappler so far.

Duterte later appointed Mama-o as secretary of the newly-created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) in March 2022.

The Duterte Cabinet members’ SALNs for 2021 are not yet the last one for them to file.

Section 8(A) of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees states that public officials, including those in the Cabinet, would still have to file an “exit SALN” within 30 days after they leave office.

This is on top of the two other required filing periods: within 30 days upon assuming office, and by April 30 of every year thereafter.

A government official’s net worth in his or her SALN is computed by getting the total values of real properties and personal assets – including those acquired prior to government service – then subtracting the total amount of their liabilities such as loans.

SALN access

In recent years, copies of SALNs of Cabinet members have been relatively easy to obtain, in contrast with their counterparts in other branches of government which have set limits to the public’s access to these documents.

For instance, the Office of the Ombudsman has restricted public access to SALNs under its jurisdiction since September 2020.

As for the SALNs of members of the House of Representatives, any request to obtain a copy would have to be approved by the plenary.

The SALN summary request form in the Senate, meanwhile, says that the stated purpose should be specific, and general reasons such as “public interest or public concern” would be unacceptable.

In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that SALN custodians can regulate public access to the document. –

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.