Business Mirror - House resolution seeks wider public access to SALNs of government workers

14 December 2020

By Jovee Marie de la Cruz | Business Mirror

A resolution has been filed before the House of Representatives compelling all government officials and employees to make their Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) accessible to the public to promote transparency and accountability in the government.

In House Resolution 1392, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor and Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said the lower chamber shall determine policy gaps and formulate amendatory measures, including the passage of the proposed People’s Right to Information Act that will apply to all branches of government, to help protect the integrity of public service, and ensure that any elected or appointed official or employee shall be transparent and accountable for his and her actions at all times.

With this, Executive Director Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) said government leaders who should be the first to make their SALN accessible to the public include President Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta,” Casiple said.

In the lower chamber, he said, Velasco should lead his fellow lawmakers in heeding mounting calls to make public the SALN of key government officials.

Casiple said incumbent lawmakers should be the first to make their SALN accessible to the public without having to debate about it.

“The concept of SALN being accessible to the public means that all government officials must be accountable to the people,” said Casiple.

“The issue of making SALN public should no longer be up for debate in House inquiry,” he added.

House Resolution 1392 was filed following a Supreme Court decision that junked a motion to compel Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to make his SALN public, which should cover his earnings since the time he served as faculty member of the University of the Philippines.

Both Defensor and Marcoleta argued that a congressional inquiry is needed to protect public’s right to information as in line with the government’s pledge for transparency.

Elected officials and those in government agencies and employees are mandated to submit their SALN every year. However, SALN records, including those in the House of Representatives are kept in highly secured vaults with CCTV.

Under House Resolution 2467, gaining access to SALN will require a final approval of the House Plenary. A deliberation is conducted in the House Committee on SALN Review and Compliance if a lawmaker is opposed to making his SALN public.

The requesting party will also have to submit a sworn statement to the Committee on SALN Review and Compliance on where the document will be used.

Since 2019, the committee has not received any new application for SALN copy of members of the House of Representatives.