Ombudsman vows easier access to SALNs

by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2012 11:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2012 07:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Anyone now can request from the Office of the Ombudsman a copy of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of any public official and government employee.

This, after the Ombudsman relaxed its policy in releasing SALN copies to the public.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said starting October 15 this year, rules will be eased on the access of SALNs filed before their office, as stated in the agency's Memorandum Circular No. 3.

Rafanan said old rules limit access of SALNs to the members of media, the courts, and students doing research.

But starting next month, ordinary citizens can request for a copy of anyone's SALN.

"There is a paradigm shift. From everything is secret, now everything is allowed," he said. "You still have to state your purpose on the requests but no limitation as to justifying purpose."

Rafanan, clarified, however that if the reason is just sheer idle curiosity, the SALN access request would be denied.

If the reason is to possibly file a case or check the lifestyle of a government official, access would be granted.

This is part of their continuing effort to promote transparency in government, Rafanan said.

Aside from the relaxed rules on SALN access, Rafanan said they are also setting up a "backlog group" in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, that will review, process and resolve old cases from 2009 and earlier.

This aims to reduce the number of cases that have piled up at the Ombudsman in the past decade, he said.