Unbelievable financial gains | Inquirer Opinion

Unbelievable financial gains

/ 10:54 PM February 21, 2012

I am a public school teacher and so is my wife. We have been in the service for more than 10 years already. Because I teach history in high school, and because from time to time my students ask about the Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, I take it upon myself to watch the television replay of the trial.

Lately, my students asked what a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) is all about. They also asked about the Chief Justice’s condominium units and the millions of pesos in bank deposits. It seems that my students also watch the trial.

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In simple terms I explained to them that the SALN is a document that all persons working in the government are required to submit every year. Through the SALN the wealth of anyone working in the government can be known, and so the SALN is really a tool for all citizens to know who among government workers are rich or poor. In my desire to make my students know the importance of the SALN, I showed them a blank form and explained to them how the blanks in the form are filled up. I told them that in the “assets” column are listed all of the public servant’s pieces of property—e.g., lands, vehicles, etc.—and their respective values—and, of course, cash in bank. On the other hand, in the “liabilities” column are declared the monetary liabilities and obligations, like loans. From the total value of assets is deducted the total of liabilities and the result is the net worth or total wealth. I explained further that the assets are the savings from income (if there are savings) and the properties bought from the savings. After the computation of net worth, the determining factor in the increase in net worth is the income, and the income is determined according to one’s salary and other revenues. By the way, the SALN contains also a list of other sources of income like businesses and salaries from other jobs or “sidelines.” Thus, through the SALN, if those working in the government are honest enough in their declarations, everything about their finances can be determined.

In our case, my wife and I file our combined SALN. Our earnings may look like just a “centavo” compared to Corona’s incomes, declared or not. But every centavo of those earnings is honestly declared. With each one of us receiving a gross salary of P17,000, minus deductions, we have a remaining income of P25,000 which we all spend for the education of our three children, our food, house rent, transportation and health needs. There is really nothing left for us year in and year out that would increase our net worth. Through our honest efforts and with our expected retirement pays, we can only hope of acquiring a small portion of what the Coronas have accumulated.

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I wonder how, with a salary of about P60,000 and with no other sources of income (as he had declared in his SALNs), Corona was able to amass such wealth. Even if he spent nothing for food, education and other family needs, it is still utterly unimaginable he could have amassed such through honest means.

—MARIO BANTIYAN,

[email protected]

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TAGS: corona impeachment, Government Service, letters, Renato corona, SALN, wages
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