‘Strict SALN rules make access easier’

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
âStrict SALN rules make access easierâ
“Within 20 days after the last day of filing of SALN (on April 31), the media will have to be given copies of the summary,” House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro said.

MANILA, Philippines — The strict rules on the disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of members of the House of Representatives have actually made access to such documents by the media and the public easier.

House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro made this claim amid criticisms from opposition congressmen who said the rules are repressive, against transparency and a shield for corrupt lawmakers, and would make obtaining such documents nearly impossible.

“The days of tedious and expensive way of seeking copies of SALN of lawmakers are over. Requesting parties no longer have to ask the courts to issue a subpoena. They merely follow simple procedure provided under Resolution No. 2467,” he said.

Castro said a summary of the assets, liabilities and net worth of House members would be released to the media earlier than in previous years.

“Within 20 days after the last day of filing of SALN (on April 31), the media will have to be given copies of the summary,” he said.

Castro added the resolution containing the rules “remains faithful to the principle of transparency.”

“Accountability will have to be guaranteed by both the public and the SALN filers. While it is true that we have the obligation to file SALN and observe transparency, we also have to impose responsibility on all so that the rights, welfare and safety of everybody concerned are protected,” Castro stressed.

He said the procedure prescribed under the resolution is similar to that adopted by the Supreme Court.

Under Resolution No. 2467, requests for copies of SALNs of House members, secretariat officers and other employees are to be filed with the office of the chamber’s secretary general in a prescribed form.

The release of a member’s SALN will have to be approved by the House in plenary session.

The requesting party will be asked to provide all information about him, purpose of the request and interest sought to be served and, if applicable, justification for access to previous SALNs.

For members of the media, an affidavit of affiliation and a certification from his organization that he is a legitimate practitioner will also be required.

The requesting party will be asked to sign an undertaking that he will not use the SALN for any purpose other than the one stated in his request, will not use it commercially except as a news material and will not use it in such a way that it would put the declarant in danger.

Other conditions are contained in the undertaking.

If a request is approved, the requesting party will be required to pay P300 for every copy. If he wants copies for the nearly 300 House members, he will have to shell out P90,000.

Not all information will be available. The rules provide that for “privacy and security reasons,” the director of the House records management service “shall, in all cases, redact or blacken” certain information, including the House member’s address, names of unmarried children below 18 years of age living in his household and exact location of real properties.

Also to be redacted or crossed out so they could not be read are the member’s business and financial interests, names of relatives in government and details of government-issued identification cards.




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