MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has issued new guidelines that will allow the public the widest access to government officials’ statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said Memorandum Circular No. 3 dated September 11, 2012 subscribes to the shift from “everything is secret unless allowed” to “everything is open unless restricted.”
Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton explained that in the past, the old rules only identify three types of requests: media request, student research and court subpoena. This time, all requests shall be granted except if, among others, the purpose is contrary to law, morals or public policy.
The SALN could also not be used for commercial purposes except for news and media purposes. The request can’t also be granted if it was made out of sheer idle curiosity.
The request will also be dismissed if the identity of the person asking for the record is fictitious or if he or she has derogatory records of having misused information issued previously.
The request will also be denied if there are grounds showing it was made with a plainly discernible improper motive and other analogous circumstances, such as harassment.
The Ombudsman can only issue SALNs that are in its actual possession.
The requester is also asked to indicate in a form his or her reservation as to making known to the owner of the SALN his or her background. The public official, however, is allowed to demonstrate that the request is a violation of his or her rights.
“All the requester needs to do is to subscribe the SALN Request Form (downloadable from the website), present the required identification cards, and pay minimal reproduction/certification fees,” Rafanan added.
The requester is required to present the original of at least two IDs, one of which is a government-issued ID bearing his picture and signature; and in case of members of the press, the other ID should be an official Press ID with proof of affiliation or accreditation as a legitimate media practitioner. In case of student-requesters, a current Student ID with an indorsement from the proper school authorities shall suffice.
The new rules will take effect October 15.