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SMNI Presidential Debate: BBM, Leody, Abella, Gonzales okay to issue SALN, bare gov’t platforms

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Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he is okay with releasing his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) in public if he wins the May 9 national elections, but added that it is still a government official’s prerogative to do so.

(Clockwise) Marcos Jr., De Guzman, Abella, and Gonzales

In the presidential debate hosted by Sonshine Media Network Inc. of controversial pastor Apollo Quiboloy, Marcos Jr. said it is not a problem for him to make his SALN public.

Previously, the former senator said SALNs could be weaponized for political attacks, and that giving the media access to the document may also be used by political opponents.

All presidential bets present in the televised forum—former presidential spokesperson Ernie Abella, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and former defense chief Norberto Gonzales apart from Marcos—said they are okay with releasing their SALNs.

The three-hour program also revealed the following statements from the participants:

The four presidential aspirants agreed that Filipino fishermen must be able to fish freely and without threat from other countries, in particular China, but differed on how to approach the maritime dispute.

De Guzman said the West Philippine Sea must be “an economic zone and not a war zone.”

“We should use our win before the international tribunal and work with other countries that are also being harassed by China,” the labor leader said.

Marcos said the Philippines should turn to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for help as he said the Philippines must maintain military presence in the WPS.

“Asean has been drafting a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea and we are hoping that will be passed,” he said.

Gonzales, a former national security adviser, said the country must regain the respect of other nations to avoid conflict amid the overlapping claims in the SCS.

Abella, for his part, said Coast Guard ships should accompany Filipino fishermen in the WPS to ensure their safety.

Last month, Marcos said of releasing his SALN: “Depends what the purposes are for making them public; if the purpose is going to be a
political attack, then why would we want to do that?”

“Sa issue ng pagbigay ng SALN, ako para sa akin, hindi problema un. Hindi lang ako nagsusulat ng SALN for the last 6 years pero kung ako ay maging mapalad sa darating na halalan, natural ay kailangan gagawa ng SALN at ito ay ibibigay ko sa publiko kung hihingin sa akin,” he explained last night.

[On the issue of submitting a SALN, for me it is not a problem. I have not submitted a SALN for the last six years but if I am blessed in the coming elections, naturally I would make a SALN and give it to the public if it is asked of me.]

All public officers and employees are required to submit a declaration of their assets, liabilities, and net worth under oath according to Article XI, Section 17 of the Constitution.

The law also states that in the case of the President, the Vice President, the members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.

Marcos said in the debate: “Yan ang desisyon ko bilang indibidwal, as aking palagay ay hindi na kailangan palitan ang batas at nasa sa bawat opisyal na yan kung sila ba ay handa na ilabas ang kanilang SALN. Sa sarili ko lamang, para maging maliwanag, kapag ako ay susulat muli ng SALN, ito ay gagawin kong public information.”

[That is my decision as an individual, as for me, we do not need to change the law, and it is up to every official if they are ready to reveal their SALN. For myself, just to be clear, if I am submitting a SALN again, I will make it public information.]

When a panelist asked the presidential candidates if it is okay for them that their family members would be required to release their
SALNs, Marcos had reservations. He said only public officials should release their SALNs, not private family members.

“Kaya’t siguro ang aking sinasabi, kung may kapamilya man ako na nakaupo na sumusulat ng SALN, sa palagay ko handa sila na ilabas lahat yan,” he said.

[What I’m saying is, if I have family that are in (government) positions that are submitting a SALN, I think they are ready to release that too.]

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