House to issue stricter rules for SALNs release

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MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives will issue new guidelines on the release of its members’ statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), but is processing requests for these documents under rules laid down earlier, according to its secretary general Marilyn Barua Yap.

Yap said government agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), may request SALNs from the House itself, and this would go through the regular route. The House is not trying to curtail access to the data, she said.

BIR chief Kim Henares earlier said lawmakers had turned down the agency’s requests for copies of their SALNs.

The House secretary general and records offices process requests for SALNs, and these will be granted as long as the correct procedure is followed and the proper justification is given, Yap said.

She explained that there was only a period during the 15th Congress when the House held off processing SALN requests because it was then waiting for the new guidelines. The guidelines were drafted by a panel, but these were not finalized because the panel’s chair, Bohol Rep. Erico Aumentado, passed away unexpectedly.

This time, the 16th Congress will once again craft new rules for public access to the SALNs.

In the meantime, the House will accept SALN requests under existing guidelines, said Yap in a phone interview. She said several requests had been granted.

Yap said the processing of the requests could take some time. Those who do not wish to wait could go directly to the lawmakers. In this case, it would be up to the lawmaker to release the document.

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