House wants stricter guidelines on SALNs in FOI bill
The House of Representatives wants to impose stricter guidelines on the filing of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) under the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III said that he would insert a provision in the FOI bill which would bar public officials from making any corrections on their declared SALNs once these are posted on government websites.
“This provision should prevent public officials from abusing the rule which allows for corrections to SALN declarations without any criminal liability as long as they prove that this was done unintentionally or without any malice,” said Tañada, whose FOI bill was the blueprint for Malacañang’s version.
He said SALNs would gain “higher respect” if all public officials would be forced to religiously comply with this requirement.
The lawmaker said the Senate’s decision whether to convict or acquit impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona for betrayal of public trust for failing to file his SALNs completely and truthfully would be key to the reforms in making SALN a more rigid standard in determining the personal wealth of public officials.
“The decisions of the Supreme Court show that corrections on the SALN were frowned upon and not allowed because SALN is made under oath. Consequently, public officials have been dismissed for failure to file a truthful SALN,” Tañada said.
He said he expected the senator-judges in the Senate impeachment court to impose the same ruling on Corona like what he and the rest of the justices of the Supreme Court had done to SALN violators.
Tañada was optimistic that the public information committee would approve the FOI bill for plenary debates before the end of the month.
“We plan to approve the FOI bill on third reading before we adjourn in June so the President could use this as one of his legislative achievements in his State of the Nation Address in July,” he said.
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