METROPOLITAN Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino explained Saturday the significant increase on his net worth in 2012 compared to 2011.

Tolentino was the biggest gainer among the Cabinet members of President Benigno Aquino III whose net worth climbed by over P21 million to P43.77 million last year from P22.54 million in 2011.

In his explanation, which was coursed through deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, Tolentino said that his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) last year was the same in 2011.

"What were declared this year and last year, the same kaya lang nabago ang SALN form improvements ko truthfully declared last year and this year were placed in a new column. There is even an asterisk in my new SALN explaining discrepancy as part of full disclosure," he said.

He said that he did not gain new assets. The changes were due to the new SALN form that the Civil Service Commission has provided for government officials, he said.

"No new assets, no new improvements just new SALN form caused the addition in one column of existing declared improvements. The same improvements declared before were not added as assets! All were however declared," Tolentino said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario remained as the richest member of the Cabinet with net worth of P705.48 million compared to P657.83 million in 2011.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles' net worth significantly fell to P7.09 million in 2012 from P21.83 million from the previous year.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro was the poorest Cabinet member with net worth of P550,651 in 2012 from P739,000 in 2011.

Valte said that some Cabinet members' SALN dropped after joining the government.

"I understand that there are a number of Cabinet secretaries whose net worth has gone down well, because, really, a number of them have come from the private sector and, also, they have higher-paying occupations prior to this. And we know that the salary in government is not competitive," she explained. (SDR/Sunnex)