Restricting access to SALNs sends wrong message — Robredo
(The Freeman) - September 28, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Ombudsman Samuel Martires' new policy to restrict public access to the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) of government officials would only send a “wrong signal” on the government campaign against corruption, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday.

Robredo said the directive goes against the constitutional principle that “public office is a public trust.”

“Pag inalis mo ‘yung SALN, ano ang mensahe ‘yung binibigay mo? Anong mensahe ‘yung binibigay mo sa tao na ang korupsyon ay di priority ng pamahalaan?” Robredo said in her weekly radio show.

 (If you restrict access to SALN, what’s the message of that? That corruption is not a priority of the government?)

In a House hearing last week, Martires said that SALNs are being “weaponized” to destroy the reputation of government officials.

He also disclosed in the same hearing that the anti-graft body has not been conducting lifestyle checks on government employees. Lifestyle checks are conducted to determine if government officials and employees are living beyond their means, which could indicate graft and corruption.

The vice president said that purchasing a luxury vehicle may not be proof that an official pocketed state funds but this should serve as a red flag that should be investigated.

“Di ba red flag ito kasi magkano lang naman sweldo namin as public officials?” Robredo said.

“Di ako makapaniwala na galing pa sa head ng opisina na dapat mag-iimbestiga. Parang binibigyan mo ng license ‘yung public officials para magtago ng kanilang mga yaman na hindi dapat,” she added.

(I couldn’t believe that this remark came from the head of an office which is supposed to investigate graft. It seemed like you are giving public officials license to hide their wealth when that should not be the case.)

Former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said her successor may have misread Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which mandates all government officials and employees to file their SALNs.

‘Only plunderers fear SALN’

Etta Rosales, Akbayan chair emeritus, urged Martires to withdraw his order.

“Mr. Martires, as Ombudsman, you are supposed to side with the people, not with corrupt officials. Do not be a friend of the greedy,” Rosales said in a statement.

Rosales also said that “only plunderers fear the SALN,” in reference to the statement of Sen. Imee Marcos agreeing with Martires’ position that SALNs are being “weaponized.”

“Marcos speaks of victimized by the SALN as if she is guilt-free from keeping trillions of pesos stolen from the Filipino people. Who are you to claim it is being weaponized when your mother has been convicted of seven counts of graft and corruption?” Rosales said.

The rule of Marcos' father, ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was marked by killings, human rights abuses, extravagance and plunder of state coffers.

“This so-called ‘weaponization’ of the SALN is nothing more than the people seeking accountability for ill-gotten wealth by government officials,” she added. —, FPL (FREEMAN)

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