Ombudsman Samuel Martires is seeking the exclusion of transactions among members of a family from declaration of public officials' statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, a leader of the Right to Know Right Now coalition said Thursday.
Lawyer Eirene Aguila said excluding transactions from the SALNs was the “most problematic amendment” to the SALN Law aside from a proposed ban on commentaries on SALNs.
"I think, next to the fact that you’re throwing shade on commentaries, this is the most problematic amendment. Why? Because I think the value of the SALN, more than talking about illegal wealth, more than talking about the wealth of a politician or public official, is actually looking at the possible motivations they might have, which you might see in possible conflicts of interest,” Aguila said on ANC Rundown.
On Wednesday, the Office of the Ombudsman maintained its stance to restrict the release of the SALN of government officials.
The Ombudsman also wants to impose a jail term of not less than five years against any person who would comment on the SALN of a particular official.
Martires has pushed for an amendment to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, particularly provisions on SALNs.
According to Aguila, “90 percent, 80 percent of our provinces are run by political dynasties so are we saying that the transaction between the mayor who’s married to the vice mayor whose child is a councilor, we can no longer expect to see those?”
“I think that’s where the problem lies because there’s very little to check on what motivates them to decide on policy. We can’t ask because it’s not declared," she said.
Martires suggested that the availability and access to SALN shall not be approved if a finding is made by the official repository of the document/s that revealing personal and sensitive information could endanger the individual who filed the SALN or his/her family member.
In addition, he proposed imprisonment of not less than five years should be imposed against individuals who would make a comment regarding the SALNs of officials.
Any issues concerning the SALN, including allegations of willful misrepresentation, perjury, and incongruence of net worth with earning capacity or inability to explain the changes in the SALN shall be first brought to the review and compliance committee of each repository agency, Martires said.
“No criminal or administrative charges may be brought to the Office of the Ombudsman related to the statements required under this law without an endorsement to this effect by the pertinent review and compliance committee,” he said.