#InquirerSeven Facts you need to know about SALNs
The Malacañang Records Office released on Wednesday the 2015 Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) of outgoing President Benigno Aquino’s incumbent Cabinet members. The Senate had also released the SALNs of senators in May 2016.
Republic Act No. 6713, known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” and which was passed in February 1989, requires public officials to file their SALNs to promote accountability and honorable service in the government.
In Philippine history, misfiled or dubious SALNs have served as evidence of graft and corruption within the three branches of government.
Here are the #InquirerSeven facts you need to know about the SALN:
1. What is a SALN?
A SALN is essentially a “declaration of one’s assets (i.e. cars, houses, cash in bank, etc), liabilities (i.e. loans, debts, etc) including business and financial interests of a public official, of his or her spouse, and of his or her unmarried children under 18 years old still living in their parents’ household. The basis for the SALN is the 1987 Philippine Constitution and RA 6713.
2. When and where are SALNs filed?
SALNs must be filed on three separate occasions: Within 30 days after a public official assumes office, on or before April 30 of every year, and within 30 days after separation from the office.
Government officials file their SALNs at different offices:
- Presidents and vice presidents file their SALNs in the National Office of the Ombudsman.
- Senators and congressmen file at the Secretary of the Senate and Secretary-General of the House of Representatives, respectively.
- Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and other higher courts file at the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court.
- Judges of trial courts file at the Court Administrator.
- Members of the cabinet, undersecretaries, heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and state universities, and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (from colonel or naval captain rank) file at the Office of the President.
- Regional, city and barangay officials of government offices, agencies and GOCCs as well as regional officers of the AFP file at the Deputy Ombudsman.
- All other public officials and employees from central offices file in the Civil Service Commission.
3. What should SALNs contain?
Public officials or employees are obliged to disclose any relatives in government in their SALNs. Gifts, donations, inheritance or other property received at no cost must also be listed at their fair market value and assessed value.
4. What happens if a SALN is improperly filed?
Failure to declare an asset is a ground for dismissal from government service. For example, Sen. Sonny Trillanes’s accusation that then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s failed to declare a BPI bank account allegedly containing P211 million in his previous SALN could have jeopardized his presidential candidacy.
5. Can I get a copy of officials’ SALNs?
Anyone can request a copy of the SALN including news and media outfits for dissemination of information to the public. However, it is prohibited to use the SALN for commercial purposes or acts vaguely defined as “contrary to morals or public policy.”
Should any person request a copy of any SALN, he or she is required to pay a fee for the reproduction, mailing and certification of the statement.
6. How do I apply to get a copy?
A copy of a public official’s SALN can be requested through the National Ombudsman’s Office or the Civil Service Commission. Just submit an accomplished SALN request form, two government-issued ID and an authorization letter or Special Power of Attorney for representative.
7. How powerful is the SALN?
The SALN has been instrumental in bringing even the highest public officials, such as the president and chief justice, down from their positions. In fact, two out of three impeachment trials in the history of the Philippines involved the SALN: the impeachment trials of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
BACKSTORY: Senate votes 20-3 to convict Corona
Former President Joseph Estrada’s perjury and plunder case was supported by his inaccurate declaration of his assets including his bank account under the alias “Jose Velarde.” Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment case centered on his failure to declare his multi-million properties in his SALN.
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