Ombudsman Samuel Martires should reexamine his memorandum circular that limits public access to Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chair Dante Jimenez said Sunday.
In an interview over DZBB, Jimenez dared the Ombudsman to reconsider his circular, expressing concern that the public may have lost a “weapon” against corrupt government officials.
“Ang challenge ko sa Ombudsman puwede po ba instead na eto ay inyo pong papairalin, tingnan niyo naman (My challenge to the Ombudsman, instead of letting that circular apply), have a second look on that otherwise the trust and confidence of the Filipino people will depend on how you perform, how you do your job,” he said.
Jimenez said the circular caused the public to lose their trust and confidence in the anti-graft body, since restricting SALNs “defeats the purpose” of transparency within government.
“Nasira dito ang reputation ng Ombudsman. Mabagal na nga yung imbestigasyon ninyo e bibigyan niyo pa po ng restrictions ang ating mga kababayan (This circular destroyed the reputation of the Ombudsman. Their investigations are already taking too long, then they give restrictions to the public),” he said.
Jimenez also found it hard to believe the Ombudsman’s reason to restrict public access to SALNs and suspend lifestyle checks to prevent journalists from using them as means to extort money from politicians.
“Respectfully, I don’t buy that idea. Kung ikaw ay maayos na tao sa gobyerno what is the fear? Wala ka dapat itago, wala ka dapat ikatakot (If you’re a decent government worker, what is the fear? You have nothing to hide, you should have nothing to fear),” he said.
According to Jimenez, all government workers and officials, including the President should be transparent.
“I don’t know the motive, with due respect. It may have a good intention to protect but we should be transparent, we have to be accountable to the people,” he said.
Despite the Ombudsman’s circular, Jimenez said that all branches of government should take part in combatting corruption in the country.
“Huwag po mabahala ang ating mga kababayan dahil hindi lang naman ang Ombudsman ang sabihin nating tagabantay ng korupsyon. Nandidiyan po ang gobyerno ng executive, nandidiyan ang legislative, tumutulong din po ‘yan at nandidiyan po ang judiciary (Our citizens should not worry because the Ombudsman is not the only watchdog of corruption. There’s also the executive, legislative also helps, and the judiciary),” he said.
He said the PACC will continue to investigate all presidential appointees in the Executive branch.
“Hindi kami apektado diyan sa Ombudsman. Kami po, nagpa-file kami ng criminal complaints sa Ombudsman pero kumpleto na (We are not affected by the circular of the Ombudsman. We file criminal complaints before the Ombudsman with complete documents),” he said.
Jimenez also said there are other means to request for government officials’ SALNs.
“Maraming sources na puwede pagkuhaan ng SALN. Ang Ombudsman, andidiyaan ang Civil Service Commission, andidiyaan ang (Commission on Audit), nandiyan ang Office of the President (There are a lot of sources to request for a SALN. There’s the Ombudsman, there’s Civil Service Commission, there’s COA, there’s the Office of the President),” he added.