Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso is willing to make public his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) if he is elected president in the 2022 elections.
Moreno made the remark after he signed Executive Order 11 which cancels all activities in the celebration of the Chinese New Year on February 1 as precautionary measure to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 particularly the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
“Well, of course. Is it a requirement? It shall be submitted. Mine has been submitted to the government,” Moreno said, during a press conference at the Manila City Hall on Tuesday.
Asked if he was ready to share his SALN to the public, the 47-year-old presidential candidate said the copy of his SALN had been sent to the Office of the Ombudsman.
“It’s with the Ombudsman. We are not hiding anything. In fact, don’t you remember the answer I made to question posed by Jessica (Soho) about the excess campaign? I even paid taxes about P13 million, P9.7 million something plus P3 million something I paid in taxes. Because that’s the law. That’s what you have to do. That’s important,” Moreno explained.
Moreno previously said all government officials should be open to disclosing their SALN being a public document. He added that as elected officials, “their properties, belongings and their debts” are stated in the document.
Moreno said during The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews aired over GMA 7 last January 22 that he paid taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in relation to the P50.55 million excess campaign fund for his 2016 senatorial run.
The interviews – pretaped and prerecorded – was attended only by four of the Comelec-listed 10 presidential aspirants.
Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not participate, his camp claiming the program host was biased against the Marcos family.
There was no reason given by Soho or GMA Channel 7 why the five other presidential aspirants were not invited.
When asked by Soho if what he did was right, Moreno insisted that no law was violated when he kept the excess funds as long as he paid the taxes for it.
“That’s what the BIR says. Because you are holding on to the money. Eh, your campaign expenses are limited, but your donation is too much. So, you have the money. So you have to pay taxes and that’s your income,” Moreno said.
Moreno found an ally in the Commission on Elections which maintained there was nothing wrong in keeping excess campaign fund donations as long as appropriate taxes were paid.
According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, there was no rule mandating that the candidate should return the excess funds to the donor or use it for charitable purposes.
“The only rule that there is can be found in revenue regulations issued by the BIR which states very clearly that unspent campaign funds shall be treated as income and shall be subject to the payment of the appropriate income tax, so it follows that there really is nothing wrong with hanging on to unspent campaign funds as long as you pay taxes,” Jimenez said in an online press briefing.
“If I may just editorialize beyond that, ultimately the disposition of these funds is between the candidate and the donor, so if the donor sees nothing objectionable with that sort of use of the money they gave, that’s it, again, subject to the payment of appropriate taxes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Moreno said he would continue to respect same-sex union among members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community.
Since Moreno became mayor of Manila in 2019, it has been the city government’s policy to treat everybody equally regardless of one’s sexual preference.
In the past interviews, Moreno had pointed out that one only had to visit his office to see that the LGBTQI community was well represented and functioning very well with the other members of his staff as well as with City Hall employees in general.
“As long as you recognize their skills, their talents, then they excel in their field of undertaking. I have high respect for people, because love begets love; respect begets respect,” he said.
“Jessica Soho’s instruction is, yes or no (the answer). And Jessica Soho’s instruction, one word. Just in Manila, equally. No man, no woman, no gay, no lesbian and you know that very well in Manila everyone is equal. Now in the same manner, they also have the opportunity to serve the city and you will see that when I leave my office,” Moreno told reporters at the Manila City Hall.
“The personal preference in life is their personal and I continue to respect that. I grew up with gays and lesbians, lived with it, dealt with it and I’m happy and proud of being with them. So, I continue to respect their preference, I continue to respect their actions privately, I continue to respect their union of being together,” Moreno added.
He said he would continue to respect the rights of the LGBTQI community because they were an important part of society.
Moreno previously stated that members of the LGBTQI community would not just be protected, but would be part of his governance if he were elected president.
The Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer made the remark during a virtual meeting with the Filipino-American community in San Francisco last October 27, 2021.
“They are not only recognized; they are part of my governance. I have no prejudice with people. As long as you are an asset to the state, you have talents that can be utilized in governance through public service, you are welcome,” Moreno said.
“For me, more than the recognition, is for them, these talents, to be utilized by us. And it’s a matter of policy, you’ve been seeing that in Manila,” he stressed.