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Duterte urged to disclose wealth records

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Screenshot via RTVMalacanang/YouTube

President Rodrigo R. Duterte should disclose his net worth after ordering a probe of all government agencies for corruption, a congressman said on Friday.

Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas dared the President to disclose his net worth for 2018 and 2019 if he had no unexplained wealth.

This is the first time in three decades that a President has refused to disclose his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, she told an online news briefing.

She also found it “shocking” for presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque to insist that the palace needed the President’s permission for the Ombudsman to disclose his net worth.

Ms. Brosas on Friday disclosed her net worth of P360,210.

Mr. Roque on Thursday said Mr. Duterte had to be consulted first before his wealth records were disclosed.

Under a memo issued by the anti-graft body in September, an official’s net worth report can only be released to his authorized representative, upon a court order related to a case and upon the request of Ombudsman field investigators.

A bloc of opposition congressmen said not much could be expected from Mr. Duterte’s call for an investigation of the entire bureaucracy since he himself is guilty of perpetuating patronage politics.

Mr. Duterte earlier defended Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar from corruption allegations.

The Ombudsman on Wednesday ordered the six-month preventive suspension of eight members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. board who are facing graft complaints. Mr. Duque, the agency’s ex-officio chairman who denied wrongdoing, was excluded.

Meanwhile, Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo urged public servants to become “symbols of transparency” to boost the government’s anti-corruption drive.

“If we want to push for transparency, symbols are very important,” she told an online forum. “We have to be symbols of transparency ourselves,” she said in a speech.

Ms. Robredo said the Duterte government had not enforced a law on Freedom of Information.

Also on Friday, Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires vowed to support the probe that will be led by the Justice department.

“The directive of the President to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to investigate allegations of corruption in the government is most welcome,” he said in a statement. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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