Press Release
February 5, 2019


The House of Representatives' move to restrict public access to the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of lawmakers is a setback to deliver greater transparency in government and potentially violates the Constitution, Sen. Grace Poe said today.

"One should not fear making public the SALN because that is how we determine the transparency of a particular lawmaker or government official," Poe said in a television interview.

Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media and sponsor of the Freedom of Information bill, said House Resolution 2467 that imposed stricter rules for the public to access lawmakers' SALN records "could be a violation of the Constitution" because Article 11, Section 17 states that every government employee and official must disclose their SALNs.

Under the 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.

Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees requires public servants to make all public documents accessible to and readily available for public scrutiny.

The House of Representatives last week adopted the House resolution authored by Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et. al. Under the new rules, plenary approval is required before gaining access to a House member's SALN. The requesting party must also pay P300 for each SALN request, or a total of P87,300 for the SALNs of all 291 House members.

"We have inter-parliamentary courtesy but it's a bit ridiculous... to take it up like a law that you need to approve it in plenary," Poe said when asked about her reaction to the House plenary approval of SALN disclosure.

The new House rules also earlier established a committee on review and compliance that will grant or block requests for SALN copies. Plenary approval is also required in cases of denial by the review committee.

Poe said Senate President Vicente Sotto III already spoke that there is no plan to tighten rules in the Senate to access senators' SALN.

"They [House] have their own set of rules. It does not mean that the Senate approves of that. Our Senate President has already spoken, that's not how it should be," Poe added.

Poe said "it's not a sin to be wealthy pero dapat maayos ang pinagkunan mo niyan at tugma sa hanapbuhay na ligal ang pera o ari-arian na meron ka."

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