New rules on public access to SALN

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has issued new rules relaxing public access to the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

Memorandum Circular No. 03 practically means "everything is open unless restricted," according to Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan. This is an improvement from the old rule that "everything is secret unless allowed," he added.

“All the requester needs to do is to subscribe to the SALN Request Form, present the required identification cards, and pay minimal reproduction/certification fees,” Rafanan added.

There are a few exceptions, however. These are in cases where:

1.      The Office of the Ombudsman is not the official repository of the requested SALN;

2.      The requested SALN is not on file or in actual possession of the Office;

3.      The purpose of the request is contrary to law, morals or public policy;

4.      The request is for any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;

5.      The request is prompted by sheer idle curiosity;

6.      The identity of the requesting party appears to be fictitious;

7.      The requester has a derogatory record of having misused any information previously furnished; and

8.      There are grounds to believe that the request is being made with a plainly discernible improper motive (e.g., harassment) or other analogous circumstances.

The memo takes effect on Oct 15, 2012. The request form can be downloaded from the Ombudsman website.

All elected officials except members of the Senate and the House of Representatives file their SALNs before the Office of the Ombudsman. Senators and representatives file their SALNs before their respective chambers.

It's easy to access the SALNs of senators but not the SALNs of members of the House of Representatives. The House leadership has banned the release of SALNs until they have finalized a new set of rules that would govern the release of the documents. Meanwhile, requests may be filed with individual House members.

Members of the judiciary file their SALNs before the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court. Members of the government bureaucracy, on the other hand, file their SALNs before the Civil Service Commission. -