PH officials, Speaker Velasco urged to lead by example in disclosing SALNs
MANILA, Philippines — A group has urged the country’s officials along with House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to lead the way in disclosing their own Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), as Congress recently conducted a probe on the release of these documents.
Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) Executive Director Ramon Casiple said on Sunday that if the House wants to probe issues regarding the filing of SALNs and its release, then its leaders should take the initiative by making their SALNs public.
Casiple’s reaction stemmed from a resolution filed by Reps. Mike Defensor and Rodante Marcoleta, which was made after a petition seeking a copy of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s SALN was denied.
“The concept of SALN being accessible to the public means that all government officials must be accountable to the people” Casiple said in a statement. “The issue of making SALN public should no longer be up for debate in House Inquiry.”
“Government leaders who should be the first to make their SALN accessible to the public include President Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta,” he added.
Last November, SC denied Solicitor General Jose Calida’s request to have a copy of Leonen’s SALN, which would be used to initiate a quo warranto petition against the magistrate. It was the exact same move done to oust former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was also accused of not filing her SALNs while she was a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP).
Allegations that Leonen did not also file his SALNs while he was a UP College of Law professor served as a basis for the impeachment complaint filed by Edwin Cordevilla, secretary general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, who was assisted by lawyer Larry Gadon.
While this complaint against Leonen centers on his alleged non-filing of his SALN, many critics of the government believe that it was a ploy to have the magistrate removed from SC as he currently handles the poll protest case filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos — especially after his relative Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Barba endorsed the complaint.
Marcos’ camp said that they were not involved in such activities.
IPER reminded in the statement which included Casiple’s remarks that Velasco, who was installed as Speaker last October, is also facing scrutiny due to his SALN. According to the group, Velasco himself was urged to release his SALN amid beliefs that he is a stockholder of San Miguel Corporation and owns shares with oil company Petron.
“House Speaker Velasco was being urged to make his SALN public amid allegations that he is one of the Top 100 Stockholders of San Miguel Corporation based on the 2017 report of the food and beer conglomerate,” IPER said.
“Velasco allegedly owns 2 percent shares in Petron Corporation based on the company’s 2017 annual report but these information were not declared in his SALN,” it added.
SALNs have been deemed as a preview of a public official’s wealth and transactions, as people working for the government are required to declare their assets and obligations in the document, and improper filing has been considered a violation.
SALNs are also considered a key to verifying allegations of graft and corruption against public servants.
To recall, the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada and former Chief Justice Renato mainly evolved from their SALN declarations.
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