MALACANANG said Sunday that President Benigno Aquino III is not hiding anything by refusing to sign waiver on his bank accounts.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said everything the public should know is stated in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the President and calls for waiver signing are mere “gimmickry.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has criticized the President for rejecting to sign a waiver on his accounts and assets, saying he has broken his campaign promise.
The group said Aquino should be the first one to sign it since his administration strongly pushes for transparency.
Valte insisted that the President has no dollar accounts. She added that the waiver has no clear restrictions on who should scrutinize one’s bank accounts.
“Is this a waiver in favor of everybody?...If you look at the waiver in the SALN, it’s the correct waiver in favor of the correct authorities… The Ombudsman has enough powers…,” she said.
She also dismissed that the President’s move is a “double standard.”
“It’s just plain gimmickry, which is obvious from what we have seen with what the former Chief Justice did. The waiver was asked from him from the very start. We waited. We already had the information, the SALN was released, the bank records were released because of the PSBank president and then in the end he chooses to sign a waiver,” she said.
President Aquino earlier denied signing a waiver, expressing fears that his accounts would be opened to all people even unscrupulous ones.
Valte assured that there will be no witch hunt in SALN waivers of political enemies of Aquino after the ouster of the Chief Justice.
“No, there will be none. That presupposes that the Ombudsman is not independent…The Ombudsman has demonstrated her independence and it’s also unfair to her to say that she is being used by the executive or the legislative which is not the case,” she said.
Valte also laughed off the statement of Defense lawyer Jose “Judd” Roy III that former Chief Justice Renato Corona has set a high standard for transparency for signing the waiver.
She said the former chief magistrate was only compelled, that was why he signed the waiver.
“Atty. Roy is making me laugh on a Sunday …Set a high standard for transparency when, in fact, we did not see his SALN until the impeachment court compelled the production of the SALN. And, obviously, he admitted to not declaring how many millions of pesos in his SALN -- $2.4 million and then P80 million in his SALN,” she said.
She, meanwhile, advised Corona to get a refresher course from the Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares on taxation law following reports that he intends to go back to teaching law.
“Perhaps, if it’s taxation law then maybe he can for a refresher course from Commissioner Henares because on the stand he was saying na hindi daw po niya alam ‘yung difference between an asset and a debit and a credit, e that’s basic in taxation. So perhaps, he should give Commissioner Henares a ring for a refresher course,” Valte said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)