Senators’ new houses ‘missing’ in SALNs

MANILA, Philippines – Where are the multi-million-peso houses?

Close friends Senators Jinggoy  Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla have not included in their 2013 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) the new properties they reportedly own. 

Estrada even went on record last year and admitted owning the new house being built in the posh Wack-Wack subdivision.

The bosom buddies, along with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, have been indicted before the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in kickbacks from their pork barrel allocations. The Ombudsman has found probable cause to file plunder charges against the 3 senators  before the Sandiganbayan.

Enrile, Revilla, Estrada

Of the 3, Estrada and Revilla have been enjoying significant spikes in their net worth for the past 4 years, overtaking Enrile who was traditionally among the richest in the Senate.

While also steadily rising in net worth, Enrile’s wealth paled in comparison with the two. His assets and wealth slowly inched upwards – by only a million pesos in the past 4 years – allowing the two to overtake him.

As of December 2010, Enrile’s net worth stood at P116 million. In 2011, this rose slightly to P117.7 million, and in 2012, it climbed to P118.6 million. His latest SALN showed his net worth at P119.4 million.

On the other hand, Revilla's net worth already stood at P125.7 million in 2010, with Estrada not far behind at P93.5 million. The following year, in 2011, they switched places, with Estrada posting a higher net worth of P166.7 million and Revilla, P147.2 million.

In percentage terms, Estrada’s net worth increased by 78% in one year and Revilla’s net worth jumped by 17%.

Their wealth increases were sustained in 2012, with Estrada registering a net worth of P193.5 million and Revilla, P162.1 million. (READ: Jinggoy's net worth up 133% in 6 years)

However, by 2013, the year the pork barrel scam broke, the growth rate in their net worth suffered. Revilla posted a modest increase of P4.6 million with P166.7 million in net worth, while Estrada’s net worth went up by about P1.5 million for a total of P195 million.

Was the pork barrel scandal to be blamed?

Missing houses in SALN

At the height of the pork barrel exposé last year,  Rappler reported that Estrada was behind the multi-million peso house being built in Wack-Wack Subdivision. Construction of the property in Mandaluyong City began in 2012 but was not listed in his December 2012 SALN.

Perceived by some to be the heir-apparent to his father, former president Joseph Estrada, Jinggoy admitted that he owned the Wack-Wack property. Saying he sold a house and lot property in Greenhills, he told reporters in a phone-patch interview, “that’s what I used to pay for the (new) house." 

A check on his December  2013 SALN, which the senator submitted on April 29, 2014, shows that he still did not list the Wack-Wack property, estimated to be worth P120 million ($2.7 million at current exchange rates). His real property assets are basically the same as in 2012.

Revilla, for his part, is reportedly building a new house just across his home on Sarangani Street in Ayala Alabang. Consisting of 4 stories and a basement, residents in Ayala Alabang estimate that the house under construction could easily cost P105 million. (READ: Bong Revilla's biggest battle)

Unlike Estrada who quickly owned up to his Wack-Wack residence, Revilla opted to keep silent on his reported property. And he is silent as well in his latest SALN. Based on his 2013 SALN, the worth of Revilla’s real estate properties actually rose to P97.8 million, from P79.8 million in 2012, or a difference of  P18 million. His latest SALN, however, does not indicate any newly-acquired real estate properties compared to the previous year.

How to explain the discrepancy? A property in Habay in Bacoor, Cavite which he purchased in 2011 made a surprising leap in terms of acquisition cost. First listed in his 2012 SALN, Revilla said he bought the commercial lot via installment purchase for P20.5 million. However, in his 2013 SALN, the acquisition cost of the Habay property rose to P38.5 million.

What do the SALN guidelines say?

The two senators can argue that the deeds of sale for their reported properties are not yet under their name which could explain the omission of their new properties in their latest SALN.

For instance, Revilla’s Habay property only appeared in his 2012 SALN, despite its being purchased in 2011. In the strictest sense, this should have appeared in his year-end 2011 SALN declaration.

Estrada appeared to be more meticulous before in his asset declarations. For instance,  in 2010, he had his P30-million Corinthian house built that year, and this was reflected in his 2010 SALN.

What do the SALN guidelines say?

The latest SALN guidelines state that real properties “not yet titled” shall form part of the SALN declaration of the public employee or official. “…real properties already covered by deed of sale,  inherited or subject of an extra-judicial settlement of estate but not yet titled under the declarant’s name shall also be disclosed.” – Rappler.com