With P7B to his name, richest member of the House is … where?

August 11, 2017 - 10:17 AM
1PACMAN party-list Representative Michael Odylon Romero. (PhilStar file)

MANILA, Philippines — With a whopping declared net worth of P7,009,588,018, 1PACMAN party-list Representative Michael Odylon Romero is the wealthiest of the 294 members of the House of Representatives and could, in fact, be the richest congressman in the history of the chamber.

The Summary of Declared Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of Members of the House of Representatives as of December 31, 2016 is posted on the chamber’s website.

The question is, where is Mikee Romero?

Enmeshed in a court battle with his own father, Reghis Romero II, over control of Harbor Centre Point Terminal Inc., the first-term party-list lawmaker has not been seen in plenary sessions or hearings since his last attendance was entered in the journal of records December last year.

In March this year, a Manila court affirmed its earlier order to arrest Romero on qualified theft charges.  In July, after the Department of Justice sided with his father in the review of the case, InterAksyon.com contacted his office for comments but got no reply.

The SALN summaries are traditionally released on the second week of May, or two weeks after the April 30 deadline of filing.

The summary contains the declaration of assets, liabilities and net worth of House members. A copy of the detailed SALN of a lawmaker can be obtained only on approval of a formal request justifying the need for the document.

Another party-list lawmaker, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, is the second richest House member, with a net worth of P1,409,149,497. She is married to Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, a former congressman and the richest Cabinet member.

Romero and Aglipay-Villar are the only billionaires in the House.

But several lawmakers have fortunes of close to a billion pesos.

They are:

  • Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez (P942,964,471)
  • Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos (P917,800,000)
  • Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (P852,132,586)
  • Manila Teachers party-list Representative Virgilio Lacson (P768,824,757)
  • Marikina Representative Bayani Fernando (P738,000,000 net worth)

At the bottom of the list is Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago, who declared only P50,000, and Camarines Sur Representative Gabriel Bordado, with P179,017.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is No. 50, with P86,498,186.  Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas is 25th with P169,130,000.

Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the 11th richest House member with P434,636,322. Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr., the top campaign contributor of President Rodrigo Duterte, is ninth with P491,710,128.

A SALN is essentially a “declaration of one’s assets (i.e. cars, houses, cash in bank, etc.), liabilities (i.e. loans, debts, etc.) including business and financial interests of a public official, of his or her spouse, and of his or her unmarried children under 18 years old still living in their parents’ household.”

The basis for the SALN is the 1987 Philippine Constitution and RA 6713 or the Code of Ethics and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The Code requires public officials to file their SALNs to promote accountability and honorable service in government.

The SALN must be filed within 30 days after a public official assumes office, on or before April 30 of every year, and within 30 days after separation from the office.

The SALNs are filed in the following offices:

  • Office of the Ombudsman for president and vice president
  • Secretary of the Senate and Secretary-General of the House of Representatives for senators and congressmen, respectively
  • Clerk of Court for Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and other higher courts
  • Court Administrators for judges of trial courts
  • Office of the President for members of the cabinet, undersecretaries, heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and state universities, and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (from colonel or naval captain rank)
  • Deputy Ombudsman for regional, city and barangay officials of government offices, agencies and GOCCs as well as regional officers of the AFP
  • Office of the Civil Service Commission for all other public officials and employees from central offices

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted by an impeachment court partly on questions about the details of his SALN.