The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reported that 500 Philippine residents, including some prominent politicians, are among those who maintained offshore accounts after it participated in a global collaborative project that reviewed the leaked files of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts.
The initiative is led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which mobilized 86 journalists from 46 countries. The team went over a cache of 2.5 million files whose size “is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.”
The investigative report exposed the “hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.” And much more:
Filipino politicians whose names were linked to offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands include Ilocos governor Imee Marcos, Senator Manny Villar and Congressman JV Ejercito. Marcos and Ejercito are children of former presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada.
The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
JV Ejercito wrote in his Facebook account that the report is a ploy to derail his senate candidacy:
Demolition job has started. It started with highest ad spending, alleged snob of niece, now accounts and business interests. Same people, same style
The Senate and local midterm elections will take place next month. JV has a message to PCIJ reporters:
I hope that they are not falling prey to the manipulation of desperate people in dirty politics.
Cong B. Corrales summed up the reactions of politicians to the investigative report:
Marcos had ignored the PCIJ’s inquiries, while Villar had acknowledged the account, claiming it was only a shell account with $1 inside. For his part, Ejercito in turn was evasive, and implied that the PCIJ was being used to derail his senatorial bid.
Malou Mangahas compared the reactions of politicians to the response of former government ministers who were also named in the report:
While the three elective officials turned elusive or evasive when asked about their secret offshore accounts, two officials appointed to government corporations showed more upfront, even repentant, behavior during interviews with the PCIJ for this report.
Manila Standard Today wrote an editorial demanding more answers from public officials:
For all we know, many of those denouncing the lack of transparency may, themselves, be hiding their own secrets. We must persevere in demanding answers, punish them for their duplicity and know better than give them mandate to lead us again.
The Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility praised the report as a valuable document that can guide voters:
Cheers to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism for its comprehensive and timely two-part exposé on the undeclared offshore accounts of several Filipino politicians and former government executives. Coming as it did during election season, the expose should help voters choose better leaders.
Political Jaywalker is looking for public outrage:
Where is the outrage? Is it because people are busy trying to make a living or scrambling for the crumbs thrown by the candidates in the patronage and personality popularity contest we mistook for electoral exercise?
I hate to think that we are just a big joke and truly a basket case in Asia, can we for once show our outrage and demand that those implicated be prosecuted without let-up until they pay for their crimes?
Sven Alexander has a proposal which he wrote on Facebook:
Make it a Felony for Politicians to have an offshore account!