Poe wants FOI ‘restrictive rules’ on release of SALNs removed
While commending Malacañang’s resolve to push for the full implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) at the executive branch, Senator Grace Poe expressed hopes on Monday that it would reconsider removing the “restrictive rules” on the release of statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of government officials.
Under the draft FOI manual, SALNs of government officials may not be disclosed if the purpose is contrary to morals or public policy or if they are intended for any commercial purpose other than for public dissemination by news media.
The restrictions on the release of SALNs were just among the 166 exceptions listed in the draft FOI manual released recently by Malacañang.
“While most of the draft exceptions are identical with those contained in my current version of the FOI bill that passed the Senate last 16th Congress and which are based on well-settled constitutional principles, law and jurisprudence, I wish Malacañang would reconsider removing the restrictive rules regarding the release of SALNs of Executive Officials,” Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, said in a statement.
“It would serve the spirit of transparency better if the SALNs of the officials will be posted on their agency’s website for ready access by the public, with only the sensitive personal details redacted to protect privacy,” she said.
Poe, who has been pushing for the passage of the proposed FOI law in Congress, said this “restrictive guideline” on SALNs appears contrary to the intent of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“Not to mention its being inconsistent with the President’s public pronouncement and intent to push for the relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Law concerning public officials,” she added.
Poe also raised concerns on exempting the release of details surrounding congressional funds disbursements, which she said “are patently public documents and of paramount public concern.”
Government officials, under the draft manual, could not also be compelled to prepare lists and detailed reports on how congressional funds were disbursed.
Poe’s committee is set to conduct a hearing on Thursday on the proposed FOI law. JE/rga
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