By Maricel Cruz | Manila Standard
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco was urged Monday to lead his fellow legislators in heeding mounting calls to make public the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) of key government officials.
Executive Director Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) issued the call in an open letter to the House of Representatives following a resolution filed by Party-list Reps. Mike Defensor of AnaKalusugan and Rodante Marcoleta of SAGIP seeking a congressional inquiry into the implementation of existing laws pertaining to the filing of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth by government officials and employees.
The two legislators filed the resolution 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 was needed to protect the public's right to information as in line with the government’s pledge for transparency.
"The filing of the SALN, as laid out in several cases decided by the Supreme Court, the latest of which were the Quo Warranto proceedings filed against then Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, is a constitutional and statutory requirement that helps establish the integrity, or lack thereof of a public official," the resolution stated.
But Casiple asserted that the incumbent legislators led by Velasco 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, adding that “the issue of making SALN public should no longer be up for debate in House Inquiry.”
“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 at Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta,” Casiple said.
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, getting 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