Legalese 2009 (Week 32)


presumption of illegally acquired wealth – the presumption that wealth was illegally acquired whenever a public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income


If . . . a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency, whether in his name or in the name of other persons, an amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, that fact shall be a ground for dismissal or removal. (Section 8, R.A. No. 3019)


The law creates a presumption against the public officer or employee who acquires property grossly proportionate to his income. This presumption, once established, may be rebutted by the public officer or employee by showing that his acquisition of the property was lawful. Failing this, the court, in a forfeiture proceeding, can declare the questioned property forfeited in favor of the State. (see Law on Public Officers and Election Law, p. 308 [2006]).


X earns an annual income of PhP693 thousand as a public official. In 2007, his net worth was of PhP99 million. In 2008, his net worth was PhP171 million. Is the mere fact that he receives an annual salary of PhP693 thousand sufficient to create a presumption that the wealth was illegally acquired?