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Palace urges public to call for transparency amid SC’s SALN issue

/ 05:16 PM August 10, 2014

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Refusing to speak ill of another branch of government, Malacañang on Sunday said the public should urge the Supreme Court to become more transparent and accountable.

Asked if the Palace was dismayed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to release the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth of justices, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, “Pinakamabuti po siguro magpahayag din ang ating mga boss, ang mga mamamayan, hinggil diyan dahil hindi naman po dapat lumabas dito na para bang nagkakaroon ng hindi pagkakaunawaan ang mga sangay ng pamahalaan.”

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(Perhaps it is better for the people to express their thoughts on the issue since there shouldn’t be any conflict between the branches of government.)

Coloma’s statement came after President Benigno Aquino III assailed the high court’s ruling declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional and amid a congressional inquiry on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

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The Secretary said there is increasing interest in the issue of accountability of public officials.

“Kaya siguro hindi na po ‘yan isyu lang ng kung ang Palasyo ba ay may gustong gawin na ganyan o wala,” he said.

(It’s not only an issue on whether the Palace wants something done or not.)

He said what should be emphasized and tackled is the principles of transparency and accountability and how it could be further promoted.

Coloma added that Malacañang had already expressed its stand on the importance of making public an official’s SALN.

“Ang Pangulo mismo ay nagdi-disclose ng kanyang Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, ganoon din po ‘yung mga miyembro ng Gabinete,” he said.

(The President himself discloses his SALN, the same with members of the Cabinet.)

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Coloma said the public now considers the SALN an importance instrument of transparency and accountability because of the impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona.

Supreme Court justices, in a June 17 resolution, denied the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) request for copies of their SALN “for lack of sufficient basis.”

But BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said that the law applies to everyone, even SC justices. She said their request was filed even before the high court declared the DAP partly unconstitutional so it should not be considered harassment.

Under Section 17, Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”

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TAGS: Disbursement Acceleration Program, judiciary development fund, Nation, News
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