Supreme Court defends new rules on SALNBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court on Thursday said the stringent guidelines it has issued governing the release of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of judges and justices were made to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, among other reasons.
They are intended to protect the judiciary, its employees and the magistrates from the possible misuse of the SALNs, personal data sheets and curriculum vitae, explained Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra, the high tribunal’s acting spokesperson.
Guerra said the rules contained in the resolution that the high court issued on June 13 and released the other day were the result of the comments gathered from various judges’ organizations which submitted their position on the issue to the Supreme Court en banc.
“While there was a consensus (among judges and justices) that (SALNs) should be released, there was also fear that the independence of the judiciary may be impaired or [that] the SALNs may be used to influence the outcome of cases,” Guerra told reporters.
“There were safeguards instituted in the guidelines because we know that the right to information is not absolute and can be subjected also to regulations,” she added.
Known to be a closed institution, the high court made a surprise move recently when it ordered the SALNs of the members of the bench be made public the day after Renato Corona was removed as Chief Justice by the Senate impeachment court on May 29.