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Limiting access to SALNs goes against Ombudsman's mandate — Morales

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Limiting access to SALNs goes against Ombudsman's mandate — Morales
File photo shows former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Philstar.com / File

MANILA, Philippines — Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday said her successor's recently issued guidelines, which limit access to the wealth declarations of public officials, go against the anti-graft office's mandate. 

"Follow to the letter the provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as the Code of Ethics," she advised Ombudsman Samuel Martires, during an interview with ANC's Headstart. 

On Wednesday, Lawyer Chel Diokno, the founding dean of De La Salle University’s College of Law, similarly said that the current chief graft buster was "going beyond his authority" by restricting access to the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of public officials. 

Last Thursday, former Sen. Joey Lina, who authored RA 6713 or A Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees called Martires' new guidelines "a clear violation" of the law. 

According to Lina, restricting access to government officials' SALNs is unconstitutional. 

"Ombudsman Martires has his own motivations in issuing that memorandum. I think he misread the law," Caprio-Morales further said. 

Martires has defended his decision to limit access to wealth declarations by claiming that SALNs are "weaponized" against political rivals and that there is "innuendo" in reports when the net worths of officials increase. 

He also said there is a provision on RA 6713 that holds that it is prohibited to use wealth declaration documents “contrary to morals or public policy." The next provision, however, states that there is prohibition on obtaining SALNs except by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public.

"RA 6713 is not confusing to me. If he feels that a request for SALN is being weaponized, then that is the concern of the politician. But no one can refuse a SALN request if it doesn't go against morals or public policy," Carpio-Morales refuted. 

"You may have an interpretation that still goes along the spirit of the law, but for anyone to ward off the provisions, that’s not acceptable to me," she further emphasized. 

Following a memorandum released by Martires, members of the public or the media who request for a copy of a public official's SALN must first secure a notarized letter of authority from the concerned official. The chief graft buster also told lawmakers that his office has not been conducted lifestyle checks on public officials because he could not see the "logic" behind doing so.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

COVID-19

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

OMBUDSMAN

SAMUEL MARTIRES

STATEMENT OF ASSETS LIABILITIES AND NET WORTH

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