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Ombudsman limits public access to SALNs of gov’t officials

(Photo Credits: www.facebook.com/OmbudsmanPH)

The Office of the Ombudsman has declared new guidelines and restrictions on the public’s access to the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of government officials.

Under Memorandum Circular No. 1, a copy of the SALN will be provided to the requester if:

  • he/she is the declarant or the duly authorized representative of the declarant;
  • the request is upon lawful order of the court in relation to a pending case;
  • and the request is made by this Office’s Field Investigation Office/Bureau/Unit (FIO/FIB/FIU) for the purpose of conducting a fact-finding investigation

“In all other instances, no SALN will be furnished to the requester unless he/she presents a notarized letter of authority from the declarant allowing the release of the requested SALN,” the memorandum stated.

“To protect the right to privacy of the declarant whose SALN was the subject of a request, all SALN request forms shall be treated as part of the public record. The form shall be made readily available to the declarant upon his/her request in writing to the Ombudsman. The form shall be kept by the custodian of the SALN,” the order noted.

According to Ombudsman Samuel Martires, who signed the memorandum, the decision is in accordance with the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 6713 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Requests to inspect or take pictures of any SALN will also be denied, it added.

Interested parties may file requests for any SALN after 10 working days from the time it was filed as required by law and for a period of 10 years from the receipt of the Office and its area offices.

“The SALNs shall be destroyed ten (10) years after the receipt thereof unless needed in an on-going investigation,” the memo said.

SALNs have been considered crucial to identifying possible graft and corruption, as it would show whether an official’s wealth and liabilities correspond to his or her salary and other ventures while in office.

Following the new restrictions and guidelines, reporters and media practitioners may lose access to the official’s SALN as they were not included among those who may/can request a copy.

Just last week, reporters began requesting copies of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2018 and 2019 SALN to no avail.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte already submitted both documents, yet it is unclear whether the Office of the Ombudsman would release it publicly.

 

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