Tale of Two SALNs

by Belinda Olivares Cunanan

News reports today said that President Noynoy is asking CJ Corona to explain the discrepancies “between (Corona’s) statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and as reflected in his declared properties.” Asserting that CJ's defense team could be resorting to “squid tactics” on this issue, P-Noy was quoted by Star as saying “What is being asked is, ‘Did you file the SALN? Did you disclose it publicly? He (CJ) can only say: ‘I filed on this date and it came out in this newspaper’ in meeting the public disclosure requirement of the Constitution.” ‘
P-Noy’s prosecutor-allies have succeeded in forcing public disclosure of CJ Corona’s SALN through a subpoena issued by the Senate trial court to the SC Clerk of Court. All the SC justices’ SALNs have been withheld from public scrutiny for the past 23 continuous years by the High Court, through an en banc resolution issued during the term of the late SC Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan in 1989, and followed all the way to the Corona Court. Since last Wednesday, when the subpoena took effect, Corona’s SALN has become open season in the internet, in gross violation of rules of the Senate trial court against UNAUTHORIZED disclosure to the public (two House prosecutors were seen taking cell-phone pictures of it and are prime suspect of this violation).

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Now that Corona’s controversial SALN has been made public and P-Noy has challenged him to justify the discrepancies there, it behooves P-Noy, too, to comment on his own net worth, based on his SALN. As shown in Corona's SALNs from 2002, when he entered the SC as associate justice, the CJ's net worth increased pretty steadily in small increments until 2010, when it increased by 57.5 % over his 2009 worth. The explanation of his defense team for the increase is that CJ sold property, and the prosecutors will be on the look-out for this.

On the other hand, P-Noy should explain why his net worth maintained a small but very steady increase every year since 1998, when he became a member of the House for nine years and for three years as senator; but suddenly it registered a whopping 250% increase in 2010, when he became President with his government salary of P820,000 a year.

The behavior of the two top officials' net worth is quite easy to see and compare in the following two charts:


The question that comes to mind is: what accounts for the whopping 250% leap in P-Noy's net worth? Some folks I checked out his chart with opined that perhaps it was due to inheritance from his late mother Cory, who passed away in August of 2009. Or perhaps it could have been his divestment of his share of Hacienda Luisita to, reportedly, one of his siblings, although someone else argued how it could have been from Luisita when that estate has been badly ailing financially, especially in the last few years? Or could this increase have come from considerable campaign contributions that were unspent during his candidacy in 2010 (because there was just too much of them)?

Then the next question is, did the President pay the correct taxes on either or all of these financial developments that favored him?
P-Noy should explain the gargantuan jump in his net worth, just as CJ will be made to explain his own increase in net worth when he was appointed to the helm of the High Court.