The unprecedented leak of financial records linking over 35 Filipino officials, politicians and businessmen to offshore accounts is a throwback to how the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies tried to conceal their ill-gotten wealth.
House deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the Pandora Papers’ exposé could be the reason why President Duterte and his top officials refuse to release their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
“It’s déjà vu. During the Marcos dictatorship, businesspeople and government officials had offshore accounts hidden from Filipinos,” Zarate said on Tuesday.
‘Fruits of their greed’
He decried how “even now, the powerful, the rich and the corrupt are using every scheme to cloak, if not totally hide from the public, the fruits of their greed for money and power, even depriving the government of the taxes.”
“Could this be the reason why many officials of the Duterte administration and even the President himself are not disclosing their SALN? Even those who supposedly disclosed their SALN like Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade failed to report his offshore account. Why?” Zarate asked.
Zarate made the remarks following the release of the so-called Pandora Papers, which revealed the offshore financial assets of ultrawealthy and powerful world leaders, politicians, and businessmen.
Other personalities whose names surfaced in the Pandora Papers were businessmen Dennis Uy, Enrique Razon, and Peter Rodriguez, former Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista, the Aboitiz family, the Gaisano family, the Gatchalian family and the Sy family.
‘Same modus operandi’
“That this Pandora’s exposé came to light this time is one of the failings of administrations that followed after Marcos. It has been 35 years after Edsa 1, yet the rich and powerful, the big-time crooks and cronies are still using the same Marcosian modus operandi in hiding their wealth. That failing is one reason why until now, the Marcos ill-gotten wealth has yet to be fully recovered,” Zarate said.
Tugade on Tuesday confirmed that his family indeed owned an overseas investment company that figured in a global data dump of millions of records aimed at unmasking the shadowy world of offshore money.
But Tugade, a successful businessman before joining the government, denied any wrongdoing and said the offshore assets had “consistently been disclosed” since he became a public official nearly a decade ago.
In a statement on Tuesday, Tugade did not deny the existence of his offshore investments in Solart, a company organized in 2003 to hold a portion of their family’s cash assets.
He said Solart “was a personal financial move” that he made long before joining the government.
Details of Tugade’s overseas investments were published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on Monday.
This was in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a nonprofit organization that obtained and examined 11.9 million confidential records from companies that helped establish shell corporations and trusts in global tax havens.
The project, dubbed the Pandora Papers, revealed the secret assets of hundreds of billionaires and politicians, including world leaders, in over 90 countries.
The report added that Solart was not listed as a business interest in Tugade’s SALN filings since he became a public official in 2012.
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