Gatchalian: House SALN rules go against transparency
While the House of Representatives is demanding transparency in the budget process, it is doing the opposite with regard to its members’ financial statements and net worth, according to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.
The House’s new proposed rules for the release of its members’ statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), an accountability document, have drawn flak for making it more difficult and expensive to obtain these public records.
P300 per document
Among the new rules is the P300 fee for each document in a House composed of 303 members, and the requirement of majority approval of the request in plenary session.
Gatchalian said the Senate had no plans to revise its own rules, while Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber followed the same rules as the Supreme Court in releasing these documents.
In an interview with reporters, Gatchalian said all public servants should be ready to disclose their finances, and the disclosures are meant to be shared with the people.
He said the process for members of the public and the media to secure copies of public officials’ SALNs must be simple and transparent.
This goes with the territory when running for public office, Gatchalian pointed out.
“Every time you become a candidate, you should be ready to show all your assets and income sources through your SALN. That’s a standard for all officials,” he said.
Palace urges review
Malacañang said that while it would not meddle with the legislative branch, it was urging a review of the House rules on releasing SALNs to avoid any possible challenge to the legality of those rules.
“We hope the House deliberates more on this because it may be running the risk of being questioned later on,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
He pointed out that the House resolution setting out the new rules may be challenged in court by taxpayers if it turns out to be a violation of the 1987 Constitution.
“The taxpayer can do something about it, question it if it’s in violation of the Constitution,” Panelo said.
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