During speeches, President Rodrigo Duterte usually makes controversial statements that make him an interesting subject to cover for the media. However, he also made a few statements that are worth looking into for fact-checking purposes.
VERA Files wrote fact-checking reports on February about two of President Duterte’s statements – his claim that he is not a millionaire and his order to Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to release information about his net worth.
However, the media organization found out that Duterte is, in fact, a millionaire, based on his SALN and AMLC cannot release his net worth because it is his job to do so.
Duterte is a millionaire
On August 4, 2016, Duterte made the remark that he is not a millionaire in front of the participants of the Mindanao Environmental Summit “Oya Mindanaw” at the Ateneo de Davao University.
Here’s is a snippet of Duterte’s speech:
“Ako hindi ako milyonaryo, and along the way, maybe after retirement, a fewer years of comfort. Pero pagtanda ko, sino magpapakain sa akin ng lugaw? Who will pay the bills sa ospital ko? Sino magbili ng medisina?”
VERA Files even provided a link to that specific speech made by the president, as recorded by RTVMalacañang. You can watch him make the ‘not a millionaire’ remark from 52:50 to 53:21.
As of December 31, 2015, Duterte’s SALN showed his net worth to be P23,514,569.93.
VERA Files noted how Duterte was already a millionaire when he was re-elected as Davao City mayor in 2001 after serving as a congressman of the 1st District of Davao. He was already worth P1,016,732 then, with the bulk of his assets being “cars and motorcycles” worth P1,206,482.
Duterte has to declare his own net worth
VERA Files also wrote a fact-checking report about whether President Duterte was right to order AMLC to “give information” about his net worth.
As a response to Senator Antonio Trillanies IV rehashing his accusations about Duterte’s BPI account having transactions amounting to billions, Duterte said that he already “ordered” AMLC to release information about how much he is worth in pesos.
Addressing the Philippine Military Academy Class ’67 on February 17 in Baguio City, the President said:
“Kaya ang gusto ko lang sabihin sa inyo, because it’s politics again. It’s a rehash of what they, they, they… It is pure garbage. But you know, I’m president… I’ve ordered AMLC and everybody to give information sa, ano ang… what’s my worth in this, in terms of pesos in this planet.”
Duterte made that remark from 4:00 to 4:25.
But VERA Files pointed out two errors in the President’s remark.
First, AMLC does not have the power to release the President’s net worth. It is only authorized to investigate suspicious transactions, institute civil forfeiture, secure freeze orders, and coordinate with foreign countries in conducting money laundering investigations.
Second, Duterte is obliged to publicly declare his net worth, like any other government officials are required to do, through the filing of their SALNs, as mandated by Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
Back in May 2016, before the elections, Trillanes and Duterte’s lawyer, now the Chief Legal Counsel, faced off at BPI-Julia Vargas in an attempt to settle the senator’s allegations about Duterte’s undeclared transactions in his bank account. However, no records were released during that face-off. Duterte later showed a BPI certification, which only contained the remaining balance in the account, but not the transaction history.