PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he has ordered a lifestyle check on Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who he tagged as a narco-politician living ostentatiously in a mansion.
“His house is like a palace,” Duterte said in Filipino during a speech before newly promoted star-rank officers at the Palace. “I asked the NBI and the BIR to check on his house,” referring to the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Mabilog, in a radio interview on Tuesday, requested for a meeting with Duterte to clear his name.
Mabilog’s palatial house, popularly known as the “White House” mansion, sits on the banks of the Iloilo River. It has a declared value of only P3 million, but estimates by his critics place the value of the controversial mansion at P50 million to P70 million.
In previous interviews, Mabilog said the house was his inheritance from his mother.
Duterte this week aimed the spotlight on Mabilog when he assigned Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City. Previously, Espenido had been assigned to Albuera, Leyte and Ozamiz City, where the mayors, also tagged as narco-politicians, died in police raids.
In a statement, Mabilog played down his house.
“I have nothing to hide. My house, while often described as a palace, is not quite a palace. It is not as big as pictures would make it appear. Last year I opened our doors to the local media for them to see the inside.
“Modesty aside I and my wife were already running a number of businesses before I joined politics. I was already living a comfortable life in Manila as an entrepreneur when I came home to run for city councilor. I didn’t become rich because of politics, much unlike many politicians.
“My wife had to make huge sacrifices working in Canada for many years, while at the same time making wise investments that were reported in her income tax returns.
“Everybody dreams of building a beautiful home. Marivic and I built one not only for ourselves but for our children. And I had hoped to plant seeds of inspiration among Ilonggos that through hard work, they, too, like Jed Mabilog, can achieve their dreams.”
He assured the President that “not a single centavo of dirty money was spent” on his house.