SC: Justices not hiding anything

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2014 02:59 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2014 08:59 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has debunked insinuations that the denial of the request of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), through BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, for copies of the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of the high court justices from 2003 up to 2012 was because they (justices) are "hiding something."

In a text message, SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief, Atty. Theodore Te, said copies of the justices' SALNs are made available to the media, civil society, and law students, among others, for as long as the requirements set by the court for the approval of the requests are all met.

"Please note that the SC has never said they are exempt from the SALN requirement nor that they are creating a new rule for themselves. That members of the media and civil society, including law students, have been able to obtain copies of various SALNs of the Justices is proof enough that the SC Justices are not hiding anything," Te said.

The SC earlier denied the request of BIR Commissioner Kim Henares to obtain copies of the SALNs of the justices and officers and employees of the judiciary.

In a resolution dated June 17, 2014 and received by the BIR on Tuesday, July 22, the Supreme Court said that it is denying Henares’ request “for lack of sufficient basis.”

The Court did not elaborate.

Henares also requested for copies of the personal data sheet and curriculum vitae of the justices.

“What are they hiding?” Henares said in a text message to ABS-CBN.

Henares said that the BIR made the request “to determine whether they paid the right taxes,” as they do to all other taxpayers.

She added that the law “is very clear” that “everyone who is with government” must file and provide copies of their SALNs upon request.

“I believe the law is very clear, that everyone who is with government are required to file their SALN and to provide copies thereof upon request, especially if another government agency requests for it. The SALN law was put in place to ensure transparency and accountability of gov't officials and staff, and I believe all branches of gov't are subject to the same standard and rules. Why should it be different for another branch of gov't?” she said.

Henares clarified that the request was made early on, in December 2013, and not a way for the administration to harass the judiciary following the decision declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional. With a report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News