Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. vowed to push for absolute transparency on the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of public officials, stressing he was willing to make his own SALN open to the public.
“I am perfectly willing to show my SALN, and in fact, I have been consistent in doing it before, as a public official,” Bongbong said, in an interview with One News recently.
As he pressed for more transparency in the government, he warned, however, against the possibility that unscrupulous individuals with ill motives may use the same official document only for political purposes, citing the tragedy of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached using his SALN, as an example.
According to Marcos, the motive of those who are requesting the SALN of a government official should also be considered and examined first before releasing it.
“If the purpose is going to be a political attack, then why would we want to do that when you already know the prospect?” he asked.
Marcos cited that the Corona impeachment was a political decision and not an objective decision.
“It was not an objective judgment,” he said.
“Maybe the SALN should be, if there is a case filed perhaps, can be given but not to the public, but certainly to the agents of the court or the court itself whatever that court may be. I think that might be a workable solution.”
Marcos expressed apprehension that if all politicians had an opponent and they would get hold of their SALNs, their enemies would surely make an issue even if there was no issue at all, citing the example of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Then if there is really a case to bring to the Ombudsman, then we will give it to the Ombudsman which is the proper authorities to investigate. It happened before,” Marcos said.
“I’ve seen every evidence presented, but they practically made a case against CJ Corona out of nothing, simply just because they got a hold of his SALN,” he added.
Marcos, one of three of 23 senators who did not vote to convict Corona, lamented that “they manipulated the analysis of his SALN to make it look that he was hiding something, and anyone who has any background in business will have understood that, that it was not the case.”
The two others who voted to acquit Corona were Senators Miriam Santiago and Joker Arroyo.
Meanwhile, Marcos said Wednesday he was firm on his pro-life stance, but he would allow abortion in extreme cases or in instances where it would be justified.
“We allow these critical cases to avail of that therapeutic abortion in those instances,” Marcos said, during a one-on-one interview with Boy Abunda.
During the interview, Marcos highlighted that his main concern would always be the safety and welfare of the affected women, some of whom are forced to seek help from illegal abortion clinics that put their lives in danger.
He suggested that to avoid being abused and misused, the abortion law must be very specific on who could only avail of the procedure such as victims of rape, incest and others that may be spelled out and determined by lawmakers.
“I think in severe cases like you say the majority of cases are rape victims, I think they can show that they were raped and it’s not consensual sex that got them pregnant then they have this choice to abort or not,” Marcos said.
“The other is incest. And another is… if the mother is quite young and is not capable, emotionally or mentally not capable to take care of a child, maybe these are also the cases where we can see that abortion is justified,” he added.
Marcos emphasized that he wanted to save lives and as a public servant “what you are looking for is to avoid the tragedies that befall on the victims and their families.”
“Every single one of these statistics that you have read is tragedy in itself it affects the woman involved, it affects the entire family, generally, it affects them for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Asked if his idea did not clash with the position of the Catholic Church, which had stood firm against abortion, Marcos said even as he “cannot argue with Theology but his concern is the large number of women who are hospitalized because of botched abortions.”
“I cannot argue with Theology all I argue is the statistics that you have given me 60,000 people, 60,000 are hospitalized because of botched abortion how many women die, that’s more,” he pointed out.
“If you are a public administrator the concern should be the high death rate and we can do in one fell swoop, we can avoid a large percentage of that,” he said.
Marcos said he had previously discussed abortion lengthily and thoroughly “with all the women in his life and the consensus is that the woman should decide because it is her body.”
When asked if he would initiate a law that would clarify his position on abortion, he said he would leave it to Congress “if that’s the will of the people.”