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No SALN, no lifestyle check

"What is the Ombudsman trying to prove?"

 

Ombudsman Samuel Martires came out with two controversial statements recently. This leads me to ask: What is he trying to prove?

First he said that his office would restrict the availability of government officials’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the public. Officials would have to give their consent before their SALN can be released.

This is contrary to what the Constitution says on the accountability of public officers. Article XI, Section 1 provides:  “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

This is followed by Article 17, Section 2 which says “a public officer or employee, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submits a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth...”

All government workers are required by Republic Act 6713 to file their SALN.

My question is, what compelled the Ombudsman to restrict journalists from seeking copies of the SALN of government officials? Martires’ move negates all the efforts of the government toward transparency.

And as if this were not enough, now the Ombudsman has issued a circular stopping the lifestyle checks on public officials and employees. To what end?

According to Martires, it appears illogical that when a public officer who earns P50,000 a month buys a BMW, he is subjected to a lifestyle check.

But why stop all lifestyle checks because of one example? It is Martires who is illogical. With his move, corrupt government officials can feel freer in their activities.

Meanwhile, Greco Belgica, chairman of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, claims that Martires’ move does not affect his agency because lifestyle checks are part of the mandate of the PACC. So now I am confused – which is which?

**

My city mayor, Abigail Binay, is starting a new project that is close to the hearts of Makati residents. It’s a columbarium, and the project includes free cremation and interment. The columbarium will be on a public property in the city. This project intends to relieve the bereaved family of the high costs of funeral services. It is also an innovative solution to the shortage of interment space.

The cost of dying is way beyond what ordinary wage earners can afford. Coffins and funeral services cost, at the very least, several thousands of pesos. A cemetery plot is not cheap, either. Santa Banana, I sold my funeral plot at the exclusive Manila Memorial Park for half a million pesos!

What Binay is doing in Makati is indeed a legacy.

She has assured her constituents that this project is people-friendly and environment-friendly. I think this is great for the rich and poor alike. Other cities should follow this example.

**

There is a warning from a group of health professionals that the government should not be hasty in ending the community quarantine. They warn of a possible resurgence of cases.

I can understand the need to resume our usual activities to jump start the economy. But we must also be cautious.

As for my wife and me – well, we are at that age where we leave everything to God’s will.

Topics: Samuel Martires , Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth , Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , Abigail Binay , economy
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