‘Billionaire’ Bong Go reports P15.6M wealth

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    SEN. Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go declared a net worth of only P15.63 million when he assumed office last July 1, contradicting the claim of President Duterte that he was a “billionaire” to defend him from corruption allegations in 2018.

    According to a summary of the latest Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) made public by the Senate, Go reported the smallest net worth among the 12 senators who won during the May 13 elections.

    The P15.63 million net worth is the difference between Go’s declared assets worth P28.07 million and liabilities amounting to P12.56 million.

    Go was the second top spender during the campaign for the 2019 senatorial elections. His expenditures totaled P161.42 million, although he reported that only P415,500 came from his pockets.

    To recall, Duterte described Go as a billionaire who do not need to get involved in corruption, following reports that he “intervened” in the selection of the combat management system to be used in the Philippine Navy’s frigate project.

    Go supposedly handed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana a “white paper” asking him to look into the use of a CMS adopted only by the South Korean navy, instead of the more widely-adopted system preferred by the Navy.

    “Alam mo, hindi ako mag-yabang pero bilyonaryo ‘to, sa totoo lang (You know, I’m not going to brag but he’s a billionaire, to tell you the truth)… It seems to appear na intervening because of what? Money? The things that you are telling here never happened,” Duterte said on Jan. 16, 2018.

    The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) had also reported in September 2018 that Go’s family companies topped the list of contractors that cornered infrastructure projects in the Davao region. The projects were not implemented on time partly because of the contractors’ lack of capability, to the detriment of the public.

    Only detained Sen. Leila de Lima reported a smaller net worth than Go, with P7.71 million as of Dec. 31, 2018. Incumbent senators whose terms began in 2016 were not required to update their SALNs.

    Of the three other neophytes, Sen. Francis Tolentino was the wealthiest with a net worth of P62.48 million. His asset was reported at P92.71 million while his liabilities were listed at P30.23 million. Roughly comparing this with the wealth of other senators, he would be the 14th richest.

    Sen. Imee Marcos, whose family faces multiple forfeiture cases through which the government seeks to recover billions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth amassed during her father’s dictatorship, declared a net worth of P29.97 million. She reported P40.97 million in assets and P11 million in liabilities. This would make her the 17th richest senator.

    Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who rose to prominence as the chief enforcer of President Duterte’s brutal and abusive “war on drugs,” declared a net worth of P28.26 million (P32.69 million assets minus P4.43 million liabilities), making him the 19th richest senator.

    As of June 30, Sen. Cynthia Villar remained by far the richest senator with P3.53 billion.

    The other re-electionists – Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III – reported respective figures of P139.03 million (6th), P95.69 million (9th), P59.91 million (15th) and P29.93 million (18th).

    Among the three former senators who successfully staged a comeback, Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr., reported the biggest net worth of P164.2 million. Overall, he was the fifth richest member of the Senate.

    The actor-politician was acquitted in December 2018 of plunder charges in connection with his alleged receipt of kickbacks in exchange for diverting his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to the bogus foundations of Janet Lim-Napoles. The court did not find sufficient evidence that the P124.5 million received by political officer Richard Cambe actually reached his boss Revilla.

    The other two returning senators, Senators Pilar Juliana Cayetano and Manuel Lapid, declared a net worth of P82.31 million and P69.91 million, making them the 10th and 13th richest senators, respectively.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon each reported a net worth of P70.12 million (12th), P555.32 million (3rd), P182.85 million (4th) and P97.73 million (7th), respectively, as of Dec. 31, 2018.

    The declared net worth of Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Joel Villanueva, Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros as of Dec. 31, 2018 were P3.01 billion (2nd), P96.21 million (8th), P71.29 million (11th), P42.44 million (16th), P26.92 million (20th), P16.7 million (21st), and P15.63 million (22nd).