MANILA, Philippines – There are only two members of the "billionaires' club" in the House of Representatives, both from the party list, according to their latest Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).
1-Pacman Representative Michael Odylon Romero is the richest congressman in 2016, with a net worth of P7,009,588,018, according to a summary report of House members' SALNs posted on the House website on Friday, August 11.
Romero, a neophyte congressman, has P7.058 billion in assets and P48.41 million in liabilities. (READ: 17th Congress: Meet the party list's new faces)
Romero is the son of construction magnate Rhegis Romero II. He chairs the board of directors of GlobalPort 900 Inc, a listed company in the Philippine Stock Exchange; and owns basketball team GlobalPort Batang Pier in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The second richest in the House is DIWA Representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, with a net worth of P1,409,149,497. She declared P1.42 billion in assets and P14.53 million in liabilities.
Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, a former Las Piñas representative. At the end of the 16th Congress in mid-2016, the couple jointly declared a net worth of P689.5 million.
Rounding up the top 10 richest congressmen as of December 2016 are the following:
At the end of the 16th Congress, or as of April 30, 2016, the richest congressman was then-Sarangani representative now Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, with a net worth of P3.27 billion.
Kabataan Representative Sarah Jane Elago is the poorest in the House, with a net worth of P50,000 as of December 2016.
Except for Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado Jr, the representatives in the bottom 10 in terms of wealth are from the party list.
Party-list representatives are supposed to give a voice to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society on Congress.
A Supreme Court decision in 2013 ruled that parties and organizations "do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent 'any marginalized and underrepresented' sector" to join the party list. – Rappler.com
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.