Ombudsman's new rules on SALNs issuance must be respected, says Palace
The Office of the Ombudsman's decision on whoever can only secure a copy of the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials should be respected, Malacañang said on Thursday.
This was after Ombudsman Samuel Martires, an appointee of Duterte, issued recently a memorandum limiting the release of the copy of SALNs to the declarant and for officers conducting investigations, contrary to practices under the previous leaderships that the public, including the media, was allowed to get a copy of the SALNs provided that they follow the requirements.
"You know, we have the Office of the Ombudsman which is the constitutional body in the ’87 Constitution to promote accountability for public officers. If the Ombudsman, as the specialized constitutional agency to promote accountability, has such kind of rule, we need to respect it," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.
The Ombudsman has yet to grant requests by some quarters, including the media, for a copy of Duterte's SALNs in 2018 and 2019.
Pressed if Duterte would allow the release of his SALNs for the sake of transparency, Roque said, "We respect the constitutional prerogative of a constitutional body such as the Ombudsman. We leave the matter to the Ombudsman."
Under the Ombudsman's recent memorandum circular, SALNs would only be released to the declarant who filed it and his or her official representative who made a request; when there is a legal order by the court in relation to a pending case; and when the request is made through the Office of the Ombudsman’s field investigation office for the purpose of a fact-finding investigation.
In all other instances, the memorandum said no SALN will be furnished to the requester unless the person presents a notarized letter of authority from the declarant allowing the release of the requested SALN. Celerina Monte/DMS