MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will closely watch the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona and will not let his regular duties get in the way of monitoring what he calls an “important exercise” in strengthening democracy.
In a chance interview in the Mall of Asia on Wednesday, January 11, Aquino said he would “want to know what has transpired already” in Corona’s trial. The trial will begin on Monday, January 16, and will be aired live on TV.
“This is an important exercise for strengthening our democracy and also the rule of law, that checks and balances do apply for every member, singular member of government regardless of stature and position.”
‘Release your SALNs’
The Palace also reiterated its call for government officials to release their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). Malacañang was reacting to a report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism that most congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint against Corona have not actually disclosed their SALNs.
One of the articles of impeachment concerns Corona’s failure to disclose his SALN. “But the House accusers could well be accused of a similar omission, and culpable violation of the Constitution and anti-graft laws,” said the PCIJ report.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, “We will leave it with the legislators to answer their point but as far as public officials are concerned, as elected or appointed officials of and servants of the Filipino people, it behooves on each and everyone of us to disclose our SALN.”
The PCIJ report, however, cited a statement of Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte in September 2011 regarding “security concerns” arising from the disclosure of SALNs. Valte said this was as a reason why Aquino was initially reluctant to endorse the Freedom of Information bill.
The PCIJ quoted Valte’s statement that she was reluctant to reveal her own SALN. “That for me personally is a concern because I’m the one here (in government) and not my family.” – Rappler.com