Wealth

Villar, Pacquiao, Recto Are The Richest Senators in Office. The Poorest? De Lima

Villar and Pacquiao are the only billionaire senators on the list.
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Senator Cynthia Villar and Senator Manny Pacquiao remain the richest senators in office based on their respective statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) as of December 31, 2019. The two are the only billionaires in the Senate, both having amassed over P3 billion in wealth each.

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The “Richest”

Villar’s spot at number one is no surprise. The richest senator in the Philippines also happens to the married to the richest man in the Philippines, a former senator himself, billionaire Manuel Villar, who is currently worth $5.6 billion (roughly P271 billion). The Villar family runs one of the biggest land developing conglomerates in the country.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s wealth was largely amassed during his prime years in boxing. Forbes estimates that Pacquiao’s fights raked in over $1.25 billion in revenues for his teams, backers, and the boxer himself.

Senator Ralph Rector, the senate president pro tempore, follows Villar and Pacquiao at number three with a net worth of roughly P567 million. Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zuburi follows at number four with P203.7 million, and senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. closes the top five with P176 million.

The “Poorest”

The “poorest” senators are hardly poor by regular standards, yet their wealth appears to be only a fraction of their colleague’s. The senator with the smallest net worth is reported to be Leila de Lima with P8.3 million, followed by senator Risa Hontiveros with P16 million. Surprisingly, Senator Bong Go, a close friend of president Rodrigo Duterte, has the third smallest net worth at P18.4 million.

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The Rest

Below is the full ranking of the net worth of Philippine senators:

  1. Senator Cynthia Villar – P3,814,091,438
  2. Senator Manny Pacquiao – P3,172,524,957
  3. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto-  P567,438,429
  4. Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri – P203,667,746
  5. Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – P176,363,262
  6. Senator Sonny Angara – P142,212,659
  7. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon: 102,259,501
  8. Senator Grace Poe – P97,631,508
  9. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian – P95,404,344
  10. Senator Pia Cayetano – P82,774,150
  11. Senate President Vicente Sotto – P77,772,861
  12. Senator Richard Gordon – P71,207,733
  13. Senator Lito Lapid – P70,948,600
  14. Senator Francis Tolentino – P61,172,000
  15. Senator Nancy Binay – P60,318,928
  16. Senator Panfilo Lacson – P48,959,138
  17. Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III – P36,308,400
  18. Senator Imee Marcos – P34,020,467
  19. Senate Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa – P33,025,241
  20. Senator Joel Villanueva – P30,249,305
  21. Senator Francis Pangilinan – P19,975,821
  22. Senator Christopher “Bong” Go – P18,391,012
  23. Senator Risa Hontiveros – P16,050,112
  24. Senator Leila de Lima – P8,323,470

How much do senators earn in the Philippines?

The wide gap between the richest senator and the poorest is largely due to business interests and investments outside the senate, as well as the complicated way that income is determined in the senate. According to the constitution, the income of senators should only be P35,000.

However, new laws and amendments have been made, such as the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, which set the monthly salary of senators at P295,191. But that’s not enough to rack up millions in a year.

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Before she passed, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago revealed the complicated in which lawmakers earned far more than their official salaries. Calling it a “labyrinth method,” she explained that senators can earn extra income from chairing (or even just participating in) committees or through “discretionary months.” Santiago claimed that because of this complicated system, a lawmaker could earn up to P5 million a month.

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Outside of the Senate, public officials can also earn through investments and businesses.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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