A pauper in House of multimillionaires

Published by rudy Date posted on August 12, 2017

By: DJ Yap, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 12, 2017

Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago

In the House of billionaires and multimillionaires, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago is practically a pauper with a declared wealth of only P50,000 for 2016.

That is less than half the salary of lawmakers, who earn more than P100,000 every month.

In her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), the activist youth leader from the Makabayan bloc reported P50,000 in assets and zero liabilities.

This would make Elago 140,000 times poorer than the richest congressman—ports tycoon Michael Romero of 1-Pacman party-list group—who declared a staggering P7 billion in assets, according to a summary listing of SALN declarations released by the House of Representatives on its website this week.

“I’m single and renting a place. I don’t own a house,” Elago, 27, said in explaining the state of her finances.

She receives a salary of P108,000 per month as a lawmaker under salary grade 31, but most of it goes to her group’s activities, including youth empowerment campaigns and free education advocacy work, she said.

“Kabataan is not just a sectoral party-list, we’re also a national mass youth organization. [The] bulk of my income goes to support for various advocacy campaigns and use of such is collectively and democratically decided upon by our national executive council,” Elago told the Inquirer.

Wealth disparity

Asked how she felt about the disparity between her and Romero, she said it was only a testament to the “very diverse composition” of the 17th Congress.

“We came from different backgrounds. I was a student activist before I became the nominee of Kabataan. Any income I earn is for the collective use or responsibility of my party,” she said.

After Elago, the next poorest House member was Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., who declared a net worth of P179,000 in 2016.

Bordado, who replaced Vice President Leni Robredo in her home district, actually had assets amounting to P3.87 million, but this was mostly offset by liabilities that totaled P3.69 million.

Other party-list lawmakers comprised the list of the poorest House members: Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas with a net worth of P501,000; Kalinga Rep. Abigail Ferriol-Pascual with P672,050; Coop Natcco Rep. Sabiniano Canama with P780,000, and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro with P904,000.

The rest of the 294 lawmakers were millionaires.

The other billionaire

Besides Romero, there was only one other billionaire on the House power list: Diwa Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose declared wealth amounted to P1.41 billion last year.

A landlord from Negros Occidental was third on the list, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, with a net worth of P942.96 million, followed closely by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ widow, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, who declared a net worth of P917.8 million.

Former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., whose family controls media companies, was fifth with a net worth of P852.13 million. Manila Teachers Rep. Virgilio Lacson was sixth with P768.82 million.

Bayani Fernando of Marikina City placed seventh with P738 million, followed by movie star Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas province who was worth P522.61 million in 2016.

Just outside the top 10 rich list was former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 11th place with a reported net worth of P434.64 million.

Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon province placed 24th with a wealth of P177.26 million, followed by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte province with P169.13 million.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez ranked 50th on the list with a declared net worth of P86.5 million, according to the House list.

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