‘Simpler,’ more detailed SALNs for all gov’t workersBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
All government workers, from the President to administrative aides, are now required to file a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) based on “simpler” but more detailed forms intended “to maximize the SALN’s potential as a transparency and accountability tool,” Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Francisco Duque III said Friday.
“Although we can expect that (many) would still hedge and look for reasons to prevent the implementation of these recent developments on public disclosure, we assure the public that we will continue to assert our best in improving the SALN form until we get the right format and formula to maximize its potential as a transparency as well as an accountability tool,” Duque said in a press conference.
‘True, detailed, sworn’
In a resolution dated Jan. 24, the CSC promulgated a set of guidelines requiring all government workers to “declare and submit annually a true, detailed and sworn” SALN.
The new rules will cover SALNs for 2012, the year the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, convicted and ousted former Chief Justice Renato Corona for failing to declare some $2.4 million in bank deposits, and P80.7 million in alleged commingled accounts.
The deadline for the filing of 2012 SALNs is April 30 this year.
Duque said the new form will cover all government officials and employees, including Mr. Aquino.
But making the SALNs available to the public will still depend on individual agencies such as the Office of the President, the Supreme Court and both chambers of Congress, he added.
Drawing lessons from the Corona impeachment trial, Duque noted that the SALN form submitted by the former Chief Justice “had a lot of gaps,” which prompted the CSC “to put together a technical working group to address (these) gaps.”
The 12-page guidelines made it clear that “cash on hand and in bank, as well as stocks and the like, denominated in foreign currency shall be converted into the corresponding Philippine currency equivalent.”
The conversion rate will be based on the “rate of exchange prevailing as of Dec. 31 of the preceding calendar year.”
Corona’s dollar deposits became a major battleground during the four-month impeachment trial, with his lawyers insisting that he was covered by the “absolute” confidentiality provision of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. Prosecutors disagreed and so did the majority of the senator-judges.
The new CSC rules also clarified the declaration of “commingled” assets, another major issue during the Corona trial.
“In the case of properties which are co-owned with other individuals, the declarant shall disclose the proportionate amount of his share in the property,” according to the guidelines.
This means that if a government employee co-owns a house, say, with his five other siblings, he has to declare so in the SALN and mention the amount of his ownership in the asset’s total value, CSC Commissioner Robert Martinez explained.
In the case of bank deposits commingled, say, with one’s children, the declarant has to state the exact amount of his share in the total deposit, including interests or profits earned from the total amount, Martinez added.
Also required under the declaration of real properties are the “description, kind, location, year and mode of acquisition, assessed value, fair market value, acquisition cost of land, building, etc. including improvements thereon.” The assessed value and fair market value will be based on the tax declaration.
Donation or inheritance
“In the case of properties received gratuitously, e.g. donation or inheritance, no acquisition cost shall be declared,” according to the guidelines. “However, the fair market value and the assessed value of said properties as found in the tax declaration must be declared.”
The guidelines included the manner of filing in the case of “spouses who are both public officers and employees,” which can be done “jointly or separately.”
A joint filing would mean that “all real and personal properties shall be declared including their respective paraphernal and capital property, if there are any.” “Paraphernal” refers to properties brought by the wife into the marriage, while “capital” property refers to those owned by the husband.
Under Resolution No. 1300174, the head of a government office shall issue a “compliance order” for the filing of SALNs among officials and employees who are given a “non-extendable period of 30 days” to file their SALNs, or complete or correct information on the document.
A first offense carries a suspension of up to six months as penalty, while a second offense will be considered grounds for dismissal.