The Supreme Court has an institutional view that Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) should not be used to diminish the independence or destroy the objectivity of judges and justices.
That's why, in 2012, it came out with an administrative resolution to be stricter with the release of justices' and judges' SALNs. Former tax commissioner Kim Henares was denied her request for justices' SALNs based on this rule.
In 2018, the Supreme Court voted 8-6 to oust former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying that her alleged non-filing of SALNs from years back amounted to a lack of integrity, a constitutional requirement for a member of the Court.
In 2019, the en banc again denied the requests of several people, including journalists, for copies of the justices' SALNs. And, in 2020, the en banc denied the request of the Solicitor General for Associate Justice Marvic Leonen's SALNs, based on the 2012 rule.
Is there an irony here? "In terms of principle, yes," said constitutional law professor and political analyst Tony La Viña.
But La Viña believes that obtaining copies of the SALN for political reasons, outside of the strict rules of investigation and prosecution, should not be allowed.
In this episode, we will discuss the evolution of the SALN in the political process – from being ignored to supposedly being weaponized and, in the case of Sereno, overly glorified.
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