Wealthiest and 2nd poorest senators were election campaign top spenders

October 17, 2019 - 11:14 AM
Cynthia Villar and Bong Go SALN
Senators Cynthia Villar and Bong Go were the top campaign spenders among senatorial candidates for the midterm elections earlier this year. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Neophyte Sen. Bong Go is ranked among the poorest Upper House members despite being a big spender during the campaign. Sen. Cynthia Villar is still the wealthiest.

The latest wealth reports were based on the updated summary of the senators’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth released on October 15.

Go placed only second to detained Sen. Leila de Lima who was at the bottom of the list. In the 17th Congress, De Lima was ranked second from the bottom as fellow opposition leader Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was poorest in 2017.

Rich enough but not a ‘billionaire’

The former presidential aid’s total net worth as of June 2019 was P15.5 million, belying President Duterte’s public statement in January 2018 that Go was a “billionaire.”

“Alam mo, hindi ako mag-yabang pero bilyonaryo ‘to, sa totoo lang. Punta kayong Davao, tanungin niyo kung sino ‘yan,” Duterte said in a media interview, criticizing a news website for dragging Go into a questionable military purchasing deal.

Go ranked the poorest among first-time senators, namely former Ilocos governor Imee Marcos, former Metro Manila development chief Francis Tolentino and former police chief Ronald dela Rosa.

Go, meanwhile, was the second highest spender in the senatorial race. He reported having spent over P161 million for his campaign.

Of the amount, P415,500 purportedly was from his own pockets while P162,035,537.34 was sourced from his “friends.”

Duterte also previously bared that Go came from a wealthy family, the Tesoro clan of Batangas. Some Filipinos noted this information.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Wife of the Philippines’ wealthiest man

Villar not only the wealthiest among the senators but she is also among the wealthiest of billionaires in the country. her 2019 SALN reported a net worth of P3.53 billion, slightly lower compared to last year’s P3.72 billion.

Her husband, mogul and former senator Manuel Villar, has been declared the richest man in the Philippines with a net worth of $6.6 billion. The family has an array of business interests, including Vista Land and Starmalls Inc.

As chairman of the Senate agriculture committee, Villar was the subject of responses from the science community after she criticized the Department of Agriculture’s large budget allocation for research.

“Bakit parang lahat ng inyong budget puro research? Baliw na baliw kayo sa research. Aanhin ninyo ba ‘yung research? Ako, matalino akong tao, pero hindi ko maintindihan ‘yang research niyo, lalo na ‘yung farmer. Gusto ba ng farmer ang research? Hindi ba gusto nila tulungan niyo sila?” she asked.

Online, Villar is being urged to act in favor of farmers after the Rice Tariffication Law was implemented in 2018.

The top tier

The top ten wealthiest senators based on their SALN reports are

  1. Cynthia Villar
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Ralph Recto
  4. Juan Miguel Zubiri
  5. Bong Revilla
  6. Sonny Angara
  7. Franklin Drilon
  8. Sherwin Gatchalian
  9. Grace Poe
  10. Pia Cayetano

Revilla, along with former Senate colleagues Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, allegedly funneled P517 million worth of Priority Development Assistance Funds into bogus non-government organizations.

Meanwhile, the “richest” of the neophytes is Tolentino who posted a net worth of P62.48 million as of June 30.

Imee Marcos, daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., placed on the 17th spot with a net worth of P29 million as of June 30, 2019. It is not clear whether part of her wealth discovered in 2013 to be tucked away in an offshore trust in the British Virgin Islands is declared in her renewed SALN.

Her family was accused of massive corruption and ill-gotten wealth during the nearly two-decade Marcos regime.

Dela Rosa is on the 19th spot with a net worth of P28 million as of June 30, 2019.

The former head of the Philippine National Police led the bloody drug war or “Tokhang” operations that killed thousands of Filipinos, particularly in the urban poor. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos