Ombudsman eases rules on release of officials’ SALNsBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has relaxed the rules regarding the public’s access to the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of public officials on file at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan, spokesperson and chairman of the Ombudsman’s Committee on Internal Rules and Regulations, said that under Memorandum Circular No. 03 dated Sept.11, 2012 and effective on Oct. 15, 2012, the new SALN rules have shifted from “everything is secret unless allowed” to “everything is open unless restricted.”
The new set of SALN guidelines was disclosed and explained during the weekly radio program, Ombudsman Ngayon, aired early this week over DZRB 738KHZ.
Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton said that unlike the old rules, which identifies only three types of SALN request purposes, namely, press report, student research and court subpoena, the new rules provide that all requests for copies of SALNs shall be granted, subject only to exceptions provided by law or jurisprudence, namely: the Office of the Ombudsman is not the official repository of the requested SALN; the requested SALN is not on file or in actual possession of the office; the purpose of the request is contrary to law, morals or public policy; the request is for any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public; the request is prompted by sheer idle curiosity; t the identity of the requesting party appears to be fictitious; the requester has a record of having misused any information previously furnished; and there are grounds to believe that the request is being made for harassment or other similar circumstances.
Rafanan said the new rules ensure the widest possible public access to SALNs that are in the custody of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“All the requester needs to do is to subscribe the SALN Request Form [downloadable from the website], present the required identification cards, and pay minimal reproduction/certification fees,” he said.
Under the new guidelines, the requester is required to present at least two IDs, one of which is a government-issued ID bearing his picture and signature; and in case of members of the press, the other ID should be an official press ID with proof of affiliation or accreditation as a legitimate media practitioner. In case of student-requesters, a current student ID with an indorsement from the proper school authorities will do.