Impeachers’ won’t show wealth in SALN

PNS — THE House of Representatives appears wary of transparency when it comes to the members’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Instead of the summary of the Congress members’ SALNs, the House released yesterday to the media an old copy of internal rules called Standard Operating Procedure on the issuance of photocopies/certified true copies of various documents.

The rules, signed by Secretary General Marilyn Yap and issued on August 17, 2009, virtually promotes red tape in the release of official documents, including SALN.

Contrary to the claimed readiness of the lawmakers to show to the public their SALN, the Office of the Secretary General refused to release even the summary of the lawmakers’ SALN as the office is set to conduct a review of the SALN filed in the next 10 working days.

The members of the Lower House were able to submit their SALN on time, with boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao still the richest with at least P1 billion assets.

But according to the SOP, the copy of a lawmaker’s SALN cannot be easily viewed without the consent and approval of the solon.

“In case of request for SALN of incumbent and former House members, requesting party files request at the Office of the Secretary General who endorses it to the Legal Affairs Department (LAD),” the order said.

Based on the rules, a requesting party needs to submit before the Office of the House Secretary General a written request, face an interview and must state specifically the purpose of the request to be acted on five to 10 days from the receipt.

“The Secretariat personnel of the issuing office interviews the requesting person to determine action on the request; files duplicate in sequential order; forwards original to Service Director,” the SOP rules said.

But what surprised the reporters is the fact that lawmakers can reject the request to release the copy of their SALN.

“The Head, LAD assesses the request, notifies House member. If favorable, affixes initials below the space provided for SG and submits request to the OSG for approval,” it added.

Meanwhile House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, spokesman of the prosecution team; Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares and Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, both prosecutors in the impeachment trial, have voluntarily disclosed their SALN.

Tañada declared a net worth of P16,557,576.90, Bag-ao has a P1,098,320.30 net worth and Colmenares P697,701 net worth.

The misdeclaration of SALN of Chief Justice Renato Corona is the issue of the impeachment case.