By Genalyn Kabiling
The Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) of government officials must be readily available to the public in line with the country’s laws, Malacañang said Monday as it frowned on the House of Representatives’ stricter rules on access to such document.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said while the Palace does not intrude into the internal rules of Congress, it noted that a House resolution requiring plenary approval for access to the SALN of lawmakers might hinder the constitutional right of people to information as well as it might be inconsistent with transparency and accountability of public officials.
“We note the passage of a resolution of the House of Representatives requiring plenary approval before it may release a copy of a member’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to the public. Such a procedure may be perceived as a transgression of Article XI of the Constitution, requiring any public official to submit a SALN, in relation to Article II thereof which guarantees the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Republic Act No. 6713 makes the said document readily available to the public,” Panelo said.
“Any stringent measure which burdens the people in obtaining public information may not be consistent with transparency and accountability of public officials,” he added.
While the House imposes stringent measure on SALN, Panelo highlighted that the Executive has promoted transparency when President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 2 on the Freedom of Information “making effective the people’s right to information within its branch.”
The House of Representatives recently adopted Resolution 2467 that requires plenary approval before gaining access to a lawmaker’s SALN.
The resolution also seeks to establish the SALN Review and Compliance Committee that will screen public request for the documents stating the wealth of lawmakers. The requesting party must also shell out P300 for every copy of the SALN.