Ombudsman restricts media, public access to SALN
Signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Sept. 1, Memorandum Circular No. 1 Series of 2020 limits the release of SALNs only to the SALN declarants themselves or their duly authorized representatives, to the court in relation to a pending case, and to ombudsman investigators for the purpose of conducting a fact-finding investigation.
STAR/ File
Ombudsman restricts media, public access to SALN
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - September 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The public, including members of the media, may no longer obtain from the Office of the Ombudsman a copy of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the president, vice president and other government officials without the approval of the concerned official.

Signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Sept. 1, Memorandum Circular No. 1 Series of 2020 limits the release of SALNs only to the SALN declarants themselves or their duly authorized representatives, to the court in relation to a pending case, and to ombudsman investigators for the purpose of conducting a fact-finding investigation.

The ombudsman said no SALN will be released to the public unless the requester has a notarized authorization from the owner or declarant of the SALN.

“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 read.

“All requests to inspect or to take picture of the SALN will be denied,” it added.

The new issuance effectively amends Memorandum Circular No. 6 Series of 2012, issued by Martires’ predecessor, former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, which states that SALNs filed with the Office of the Ombudsman “shall be made available to the public for inspection and reproduction after 10 working days from the time they are filed.”

Martires had suspended the release to the media of the 2018 SALNs of President Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo and other government officials, saying that the existing policy on public access to SALN is under review by his office.

Martires, a former Supreme Court associate justice, earlier told reporters that it seems there is no law expressly giving authority to the Office of the Ombudsman to release the SALNs of government officials to the public.

Morales, on the other hand, maintained that a sitting ombudsman has the authority to release the SALNs of government officials filed at the Office of the Ombudsman.– Christina Mendez

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