Wealth of Belmonte, House leaders climb past 4 years

MANILA, Philippines – What do the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) of the leaders of the House of Representatives reveal about their wealth?

Since 2010, the net worth of most House leaders has increased, summaries of their SALNs show. 

The summaries – prepared and released by the House secretariat – contain the amount of each lawmaker's real and property assets, total assets, liabilities, and net worth. 

The summary of the SALNs of the top House leaders – Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr and House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II – reveal stories about their net worth that are polar opposites. 

Belmonte is not only the top House member, he is also one of the wealthiest solons, with a net worth of P819.75 million as of 2013. 

When Belmonte, who had also served as House Speaker under the Arroyo administration, was elected Quezon City 4th district representative in 2010 after years of serving as mayor, he re-entered Congress with a net worth of P283.29 million. 

His wealth spiked by P442.93 million a year after. Belmonte said the sudden increase in his wealth was due to the sale of his shares in the national daily Philippine Star to business mogul Manny V Pangilinan.

His total assets have increased year on year, while his liabilities have remained the same at P2.31 million. 

In 2012, his net worth increased by close to a hundred million (P91.36 million). In 2013, meanwhile, Belmonte's wealth did not increase as much as it did in previous years.  

The lower chamber's second-in-command, meanwhile, has a different story to tell.

Gonzales' net worth dropped by more than 60% from P42.48 million in 2010 to P16.40 million in 2011.  

The decrease in his net worth is due to the sharp increase in his liabilities from P1.25 million in 2010 to P31.40 million in 2011 – while his total assets remained at about the same levels in 2011 to 2013, only increasing or decreasing by about P400,000 to P600,000.  

Increases, decreases 

Four out of 6 Deputy Speakers saw a steady increase in net worth from 2010 to 2013. 

They are Representatives Henedina Abad – wife of Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Giorgidi Aggabao, Sergio Apostol, and Pangalian Balindong. 

In 4 years, their wealth climbed by the following amounts: 

Two of them, Balindong and Aggabao, do not have any liabilities. 

Meanwhile, the net worth of two other Deputy Speakers, Carlos Padilla and Roberto Puno, also increased from 2010. But unlike their counterparts, their wealth both decreased in 2013 compared to 2012. 

Here are the summaries of the SALNs of Deputy Speakers:

Key committees

Representatives chairing powerful committees in the House also saw an increase in wealth since 2010. 

The chairman of the committee on justice, Iloilo 5th district Representative Niel Tupas Jr's net worth rose by 23% at P10.22 million in 4 years from P44.48 million to P54.70 million.

It was under Tupas' watch as justice committee chairman in the 15th Congress that the House impeached former chief justice Renato Corona over his failure to declare his bank accounts in his SALN. 

Committee on appropriations chairman Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab's wealth increased by P5.3 million. The appropriations committee is in charge of deliberating the proposed budget every year. 

Meanwhile, Romero "Miro" Quimbo, chairman of the powerful ways and means committee, saw an increase in wealth of P1.33 million, while committee on accounts chairman, Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona's wealth increased by P66,000 over the past 4 years. 

Here are the summaries of their SALNs:

The net worth of Commission on Appointments chairperson Mel Senen Sarmiento, meanwhile, see-sawed over the past 4 years.

While his net worth has increased by P812,112 since 2010, it first plunged to P1.65 million in 2011 from P8.5 million in 2010 before increasing to P3 million in 2012 and P9.31 million in 2013. 

Members of the House earn salaries of over P500,000 a year. 

The release of individual lawmakers' SALNs is up to the discretion of each House member. The House leadership banned the release of SALNs after the Corona trial. More than two years since, lawmakers have yet to put in place new rules governing the release of their SALNs. – Rappler.com

*US$1 = P44