Duterte’s 2018 SALN still unreleased 8 months after deadline – PCIJ
MANILA, Philippines — The government has not released the 2018 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of President Rodrigo Duterte although nearly eight months have passed since the April 30 deadline for its filing.
In a report published on Wednesday, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed how the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the President had failed to provide the media a copy of the President’s SALN despite the chief executive’s repeated vow for transparency.
“This would be the first time in the last 30 years that a President has not released his or her SALN,” the report, written by its PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas, said.
“Since the SALN Law was enacted on Feb 20, 1989, all five presidents before Duterte had publicly disclosed their annual SALNs without fail, year on year, via either the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office of the President.”
The SALN is a document that government officials must accomplish and submit every year attesting under oath to their total assets and liabilities, including businesses and financial interests, that make up their net worth to be checked against corruption.
The PCIJ and the Right to Know, Right Now! coalition have made “multiple separate requests” for the President’s 2018 SALN. But according to PCIJ, the requests “have been tossed back and forth between the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Office of the Ombudsman.”
“Invariably, all such requests filed in a series from June to November 2019 were denied because of an identical reason: The Ombudsman has yet to finalize its new guidelines on the release of the SALNs of the President and other senior officials,” the report said.
“Not one of the offices involved has bothered explaining why there has been a sudden need for new guidelines,” it added.
The new guidelines of the Office of the Ombudsman that had been promised since June 2019 have also not been released.
Under The SALN Law (Republic Act No. 6713), the Ombudsman is deemed custodian of the SALNs of the President, Vice President, senior officials, and star-rank military and police officers.
The predecessors of Ombudsman Samuel Martires had issued circulars and guidelines that spelled out the procedures for securing copies of SALNs and also affirmed a “public disclosure” policy for citizens to access copies.
“But under Martires, the sixth Ombudsman who Duterte appointed in August 2018 (or six months before Martires’s retirement as associate justice of the Supreme Court), the SALNs of senior officials are now kept under lock and key,” the PCIJ said.
“All requests for SALNs filed with the national office, as well as with the offices of the Deputy Ombudsmen for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and for the Military and Law Enforcement Officer (MOLEO) are now being submitted for approval only by Martires,” it added.
In contrast, the PCIJ noted how quickly the office of Vice President Leni Robredo granted their request for her 2018 SALN.
“In a related development, though, PCIJ filed on June 10, 2019 a request for of the 2018 SALN of Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, first with the Ombudsman and was told that the document can be secured from the Office of the Vice President,” the report said.
“PCIJ did as advised. The Office of the Vice President, in a letter, acknowledged receipt of PCIJ’s FOI Request Form on July 1, and an earlier PCIJ request letter. On July 5, PCIJ got a copy of Robredo’s 2018 SALN.”
READ THE PCIJ REPORT HERE: Duterte’s secret SALN: The lie of his FOI
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