MANILA, Philippines—The Civil Service Commission has released a “simpler” statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) form but access to it still depends on individual agencies.
In a press conference at the commission’s central office Friday, CSC chairman Francisco Duque said the new version was made easier to fill out while not leaving out “the needed ‘alarm’ indicators to determine illegally acquired wealth of public officials and employees.”
Individual agencies, however, have their own guidelines on who can gain access to the said document, he said.
“The access to SALNs is subject to policies or guidelines governing access to SALNs filed in the CSC. We have guidelines for that (but) we must also respect that these may differ from the receiving agencies’ (guidelines),” Duque said.
This meant that access to SALNs would still depend on the Office of the Ombudsman, the Secretary of the Senate, the Secretary General of the House of Representatives, as well as the Office of the President.
While the “SALN is an essential anti-corruption tool–designed specifically to check the lifestyles and to dissuade public servants from enriching ourselves” Duque said the commission could not impose on the access to the said document.
“We are not to dictate how such guidelines are made but we can always propose uniform guidelines but that would still be subject to study of our technical working group,” he said.
To comply with the provisions of the antigraft law, the CSC earlier issued a new SALN form which required government officials to provide a more detailed account of their expenses, including personal ones. This was later deferred after legislators questioned its legality, infringement of privacy and issues on needing lawyers or accountants to fill it out.
The new SALN form, governed by Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees, requires data on government officials or employees’ assets such as:
The declarant, including his/her spouse and unmarried children below 18 years of age living in their household shall declare their existing connection to any business entity aside from their income from the government. They will indicate the business address, nature of business interest, and date of acquisition of interest or connection.
Details on the declarant’s relatives in the government within the fourth civil degree of relationship by consanguinity or affinity should also be disclosed in the SALN.
For real properties, the acquisition cost shall be used in computing the net worth. Excluded from these are the properties of unmarried children below 18 years of age living in the declarant’s household.
Spouses both working in the government can opt to jointly or separately file their SALNs.
For joint filing, properties exclusively owned by the declarant’s spouse who works with the government should be declared.
In case of separate filing of SALNs, the spouse need not include his/her properties exclusively owned in the declarant’s net worth.
If the declarant’s spouse is not working in the government, the latter’s exclusively owned properties shall not be included in the net worth.
No details on salary
Unlike with the 1994 version of the SALN form which is presently being used, the amount the declarant was earning was no longer required in the new form.
Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo said that the technical working group which came up with the new form said that there was no legal basis for requiring this detail.
“Anyway, kung ano naman ang properties na nasa iyo, ilalagay mo naman iyon as part of your personal properties. Hindi na kasi kailangan kaya inalis na namin,” he said.
The CSC believes that the fine-tuned SALN form they now released was “simpler to avoid confusion.” It is equipped with guidelines on how the form should be filled out.
Duque reminded government officials and employees to file their SALN before the April 30 deadline “as failure to do so has consequent administrative penalties.”
Those who fail to submit their SALN within the deadline will be punished with suspension of one to six months for the first offense, and dismissal from service for the second offense.
“Also, we are reminding them to be truthful in declaring their assets, liabilities, and net worth,” he added.
Heads of agencies are tasked to issue orders for compliance within 30 days to those within their ranks who have failed to file their SALN or have incomplete data in the said document.
Duque defended the new SALN form which was not as detailed as the earlier revised form they came out with, saying that this time “mas pinaigting na ang review and compliance committee. Ngayon, sa bagong SALN form at guidelines, the head of agencies or their authorized representatives dapat repasuhin ang submitted forms to check, tama ba ang form, ang pagdeklara?”
SALN form review
The House of Representatives has created a committee which specifically looked into issues surrounding the SALN, following the controversial trial against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona wherein prosecutors zeroed in on his failure to disclose his expenses and assets through the said document.
The new SALN form’s guidelines also clarified the legal basis for filing the said document which is Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House committee designated to look into the SALN will study the new form released by the CSC.
This was despite the recent demise of the late Bohol Representative Erico Aumentado, who stood as chairman of the committee. Belmonte told INQUIRER.net that the panel will still be able to scrutinize the new SALN form.
Its members are Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao, Batangas Representative Tomas Apacible, Nueva Ecija Rodolfo Antonino and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez.