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Monday, March 4, 2024

Ombudsman firm on stance on release of SALNs

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The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday maintained its stance to restrict the release of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of government officials. 

The Ombudsman also wants to impose a jail term of not less than five years against any person who would comment on the SALN of a particular official.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires wanted an amendment to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, particularly on SALN.

A draft bill showed that SALNs could only be made available for copying or reproduction after 10 working days from the time they are filed as required by law provided, that each official repository shall have exclusive authority in approving any request for copying, reproduction, inspection of or any other form of access to SALN and shall enact reasonable conditions, guidelines, rules and regulations for such purpose.

Martires suggested that the availability and access to SALN shall not be approved if a finding is made by the official repository of the document/s that revealing personal and sensitive information could endanger the individual who filed the SALN or his/her family member.

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In addition, he proposed imprisonment of not less than five years should be imposed against individuals who would make a comment regarding the SALNs of officials.

Any issues concerning the SALN, including allegations of willful misrepresentation, perjury, and incongruence of net worth with earning capacity or inability to explain the changes in the SALN shall be first brought to the review and compliance committee of each repository agency, Martires said.

“No criminal or administrative charges may be brought to the Office of the Ombudsman related to the statements required under this law without an endorsement to this effect by the pertinent review and compliance committee,” he said. 

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