Duterte defends self, daughter Sara for maintaining law offices
President Rodrigo Duterte does not see anything wrong if his name and that of his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio are still included in the law firms, which they reportedly did not declare in their respective statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said that Duterte and Carpio could have violated certain laws, particularly the Code of Conduct and Professional Standards for Public Officials and Employees, or Republic Act No. 6713, on conflict of interest.
The law office of Sara and husband Manases Carpio, also a lawyer, has been handling cases of some companies which have issues with the government, the PCIJ noted.
It said that Sara did not divest her interest in the law firm, which was not also registered before the Securities and Exchange Commission, even if she is already with the government service.
PCIJ said that Duterte himself was also a partner in another law office but the information never appeared in any of his SALNs.
"Right now, my daughter and I are being criticized. All about lawyering," Duterte said in a speech in Iloilo City on Saturday, adding that it was none of others' business if he still has a law office.
"You see the mind of the investigative journalism...it's all about money," he said.
He also acknowledged that he was a partner before in a motorcycle shop. But it closed shop because of the law and order problem many years ago in Davao City.
Duterte justified that he has to maintain his law office because he would not stay in politics forever.
"Remember this: I will not stay forever. I will not be a part of the political scenery in the coming years," Duterte said.
"What we earned outside is none of your business actually...you know, you have a law office because there is an election every three years. And it's so short. If you lose in this election, where would you go. That's why we really have," he said.
"And advertising our name, we'll there's nothing wrong as long as you do not practice and you do not help people get something from government that is illegal...and as long as it is not the people's money, I don't give a s***!" he added.
The President said that maintaining his and that of his daughter's name in the law firms was just part of the freedom of expression.
"Why, is there anything wrong of a freedom to express yourself?" he said.
He also recalled that when his mother was still alive, it was her who fed him even when he was already a mayor and he was living with her for a long time.
He also said that his mother left money to him and his siblings.
PCIJ also reported about the sudden increase on Duterte's net worth as well as that of Sara and his other son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
It cited the seeming lack of transparency on the SALNs of the three Dutertes. Celerina Monte/DMS