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What is a lifestyle check?

( - October 11, 2017 - 7:49am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon, in a draft committee report, has

recommended lifestyle checks on Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and lawyer
Manases Carpio — the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio — over
their alleged involvement in smuggling at the Bureau of Customs.

Although Gordon did not recommend charges over the allegations, he said that
“personalities who, due to their close relationships to persons possessing high
authority, are held to higher standards of accountability to the people precisely
because of such close relationships.”

But what are lifestyle checks?

A lifestyle check, according to the website of the Office of the Ombudsman, is an

“investigation strategy developed by anti-corruption agencies to determine the
existence of ill-gotten and unexplained wealth” of government officials and

Unexplained wealth, according to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, "is an
amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to [an official's] salary
and to other lawful income."

The Office of the Ombudsman and the National Bureau of Investigation are
empowered to conduct the lifestyle check on public officials, but the two agencies
refused to elaborate on the processes of the lifestyle check without a formal letter
request sent to the head of their agencies.

But papers presented to the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the
Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders by Assistant State Prosecutor
Niven Canlapan and lawyer Maria Melinda Mananghaya-Henson of the Office of the
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon shed light on processes of lifestyle checks done by
the DOJ and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Department of Justice lifestyle check

Canlapan, in his paper “Investigative Practice in Immigration Corruption Cases in the

Philippines,” said that the lifestyle check is one of the methods used “in preventing
corruption” in public officials.

He enumerated the following steps in conducting a lifestyle check:

 Knowing the personal circumstances of the subject of the investigation
 Determining the unlawful acts of the subject, which include accepting bribes
or kickbacks, malversation or conversion of public funds
 Locating subject’s property, assets, and liabilities,
 Assessing the value of property
 Determining whether the source of income is lawful or unlawful
 Knowing hobbies or pastime activities such as fondness of jewelry collections,
frequenting casinos, or club memberships
 Comparing the increase in yearly income as stated in the subject’s Statement
of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth
 Knowing the immediate family, relatives and friends of the subject
 Discovering if the subject has a real estate or other property under the names
of family and kin
 Conducting surveillance and take photographs and videos if practicable
 Making a comparative analysis of the official/employee’s assets, liabilities, net
worth and income starting from the time the subject is suspected to have
committed the unlawful act

Canlapan added that after pieces of evidence are gathered by either the NBI or the
Philippine National Police, the findings will be forwarded to the Office of the
Prosecutor General—under the Department of Justice—or the Office of the
Ombudsman for proper filing in court.

Office of the Ombudsman lifestyle check

Henson, for her part, stressed that the Office of the Ombudsman follows similar
steps in conducting lifestyle checks.

In her paper entitled “Tracing Corruption Proceeds in the Philippines through

Lifestyle Checks,” Henson said that a lifestyle investigation emanates from a
complaint, “in any form, intelligence information and reports from the media.”

The investigator will then evaluate the information or complaint. “Field investigators
use two tools for case evaluation and planning—the Evaluation Action Slip and
Investigation Plan of Action,” Henson added.

The Evaluation Action Slip records “whether the public officer involved is low ranking
or high ranking; whether allegations constitute violations of other existing laws;
whether the allegations include verifiable leads; whether there is already a pending
case involving the same public official.”

An Investigation Plan of Action is prepared if the need for evidence—what, where,

when, how, and from whom—is indicated.

Henson said that a proper investigation will then commence. “Evidence may either
be documentary or testimonial,” she noted.

She added that the Office of the Ombudsman is empowered to issue subpoena and
seek assistance to obtain documents from other government agencies during its

Sworn statements may also be taken, as well as site inspection and surveillance.

Information on the assets of the public official may be taken from documents that
 personnel records
 property records as stated in the subject’s SALN
 business and income records through Certificate of Yearly Compensation,
Allowances and other Benefits which may be obtained from the accounting
department of the office
 expenditures records
 and records of liabilities

“After conducting the investigation, investigators prepare an Investigation report

recommending either closure and termination of the investigation; or filing of formal
criminal and administrative charges against the public official,” Henson added.

Who can report?

Those who have “legitimate information to report” and wish to request for a lifestyle
check on government officials may call the Office of the Ombudsman at 927-4102 or
(032) 927-2404 from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

They can also send a text message to 09266994703, where reports are received on
a 24/7 basis.

It takes about an hour to lodge a request for lifestyle check.

The call will go through a hotline agent who will log the name, circumstances of the
public official or details of violation in a Call Information Sheet.

The team leader will then review the details and recommendations before elevating
the request to an administrative officer.

The administrative officer will then verify the identity of the public official, check
existing cases and records on database. An endorsement will be prepared for the
Ombudsman sectoral offices.

The CIS will then be routed to the proper office.

Recent lifestyle checks

President Rodrigo Duterte was catapulted to the chief executive position on a

promise to ruthlessly rid the country of crime and corruption.

In August, he ordered the NBI to conduct a lifestyle check on Iloilo City Mayor Jed
Mabilog, whom he said is a protector of drug lords. Mabilog has denied the
allegations but has gone on extended medical leave citing his health as well as
supposed threats to his life.

According to a report in The Freeman, NBI agents visited Mabilog's home in Iloilo
City in late August "citing orders from their direct superior. "

Because they did not have a search warrant,

In the absence of any search warrant and because they were not accompanied by
Mabilog's lawyer, the agents were only allowed into the receiving area of Mabilog's
house in the city's Molo district.

"The NBI agents did not insist. They just took pictures of the area where they were
allowed to and some cars parked inside the compound. They saw six cars, but
Mabilog’s brother JV, who later arrived, claimed that only three belonged to the
mayor and his wife," The Freeman reported.

In July 2016, Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno ordered a widespread

lifestyle check of the Philippine National Police over allegations from the president
that some police officials were in cahoots with illegal drug syndicates.

"As public servants, we are expected to be exemplars of honesty, integrity and

professionalism. So if the policemen or any other civil servant for that matter have
acquired unexplained wealth while in active service, they have a lot of explaining to
do," Sueno said after ordering PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa to go ahead
with the lifestyle check.

Duterte fired Sueno in April 2017 over corruption allegations and "loss of trust and


1987 Constitution of the Philippines
Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers)
Section 1.
Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be
accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.
Anti-Corruption Commission to conduct lifestyle check on
'all government officials'
(UPDATED) The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission has jurisdiction over
presidential appointees nationwide, but will conduct the check on 'all government
Rambo Talabong
Published 1:55 PM, March 27, 2018
Updated 8:49 PM, March 27, 2018

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission

(PACC) will perform a lifestyle check on "all government officials.”

PACC Commissioner and Spokesperson Greco Belgica announced this on Tuesday,

March 27, in a press conference at the Manila Yacht Club.

According to Belgica, the PACC through its resolution number 3 has provided for
them to conduct lifestyle checks on all officials.

The PACC was created by President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017 to aid him in
curbing corruption in the executive department.

How will they do it?

According to Belgica they will begin with heads of departments, then local
government officials like governors and mayors.

Then, they will come after legislators from the Senate and the House of

“Leaders muna. Ulo-ulo, pababa (The leaders first. Heads going down),” Belgica

They will start their lifestyle checks by looking into officials’ Statement of Assets,
Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs), comparing whether what the officials earn match
what they own.

“Kunyari ako sumweldo ako commissioner I think sesweldo ng P150,000,

babawasan pa ng mga taxes so 100 na lang, wala nang 30%. Pero paano ako
nakabili ng yate? How did that happen?” Belgica dramatized.

(For example, I am a commissioner, I think I earn P150,000, then you subtract taxes,
so it’s just P100,000 without the 30%. But how did I buy a yacht? How did that

If they find anything irregular, they will file an administrative case with the President.

Abuse of power?
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission only has jurisdiction over presidential
appointees nationwide but will conduct the check on all government employees "who
have taken oath" according to Belgica.
He said that while they are only expected to file administrative cases, the PACC will
start criminal case build-ups that they would later refer to law enforcement agencies
like the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation. –