More lawmakers open SALNs, accounts to scrutiny

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2012 09:07 PM | Updated as of May 31 2012 05:07 AM

MANILA - Ranks of lawmakers responding to the challenge to lift the privacy of their assets and bank accounts have swollen.

Allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the House of Representatives and members of the progressive Makabayan bloc authorized the publication of their statements, assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) on Wednesday.

They also opened their bank accounts to public scrutiny.

In front of journalists, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez signed a waiver allowing the House Speaker to release copies of his SALN to the media.

Suarez said they talked to Arroyo about their move and she did not object.

When asked if Arroyo was part of the move, Suarez  said, "I think kasama."

He said the minority members are willing to sign similar waivers as well.

Suarez said he didn't ask Arroyo categorically if she was willing to do so.

He said they will not wait for the House majority to open their SALNs and accounts to public scrutiny first.

Suarez said he has no foreign currency accounts, but has 2 helicopters as a part-owner with celebrity Willie Revillame.

Welcome outcome of trial

Earlier, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said former Chief Justice Renato Corona's challenge to disclose his bank accounts to scrutiny is a welcome outcome of the trial.

"Perhaps the only positive outcome of an impeachment process that was flawed from the very beginning, is the final challenge  issued by the chief justice for all government officials to waive any legal protections they might enjoy against the fullest disclosure of their assets and liabilities. This is a proposition that makes eminent sense and that ought to be fully supported. We in the minority have already offered to sign such a waiver, and we expect no less especially from those among us who believe in the much vaunted tuwid na daan," she said.

Magsaysay said the administration should not allow any double standards in accountability.

“By the removal of the chief justice, the Palace promises a new beginning comprising a transparent and accountable administration. We in the minority, however, challenge this administration to pursue with the same vigor and passion all erring public officials and not only those who have opposing views," she said.

Magsaysay said its also not acceptable to for public officials to declare foreign currency deposits in their converted value as pesos. Magsaysay indicated that kind of declaration is also not truthful.

Leftists sign waivers

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño also made a similar announcement. "Today, we, the members of the Makabayan partylist bloc in Congress, responding to the challenge for greater transparency and accountabiliity in government brought about in part by the Corona impeachment trial, are signing unconditional waivers allowing the Ombudsman to look into our assets and bank accounts for the purpose of investigating any report or complaint against us for graft and corruption."

"We challenge our fellow officials in government, starting with the President and his Cabinet, our colleagues in the House and the Senate, to do no less. Kapansin-pansin na hindi pa pumipirma ng waiver si President Aquino at kanyang mga gabinete sa kabila ng malakas na panawagan ng taumbayan para dito. Dapat magpamalas ng halimbawa ang Pangulo at kanyang gabinete. Sign the waiver now," he said.

Casiño said President Aquino should apply the same zeal he had in going after Corona in pursuing "plunder, ill-gotten wealth and other cases of graft and corruption and human rights violations against [former] President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her conspirators."

Other Congressmen who indicated their openness to have their assets and accounts opened to scrutiny are:

Rep. Roilo Golez,
Rep. Angelo Palmones,
Rep. Emmeline Aglipay,
Rep. Joel Duavit,
Rep. Walden Bello,

Rep. Imelda Calixto Rubiano,
Rep. Simeon Datumanong,
Rep. Amado Bagatsing,
Rep. Tupay Loong,
Rep. Emmy de Jesus,

Rep. Winnie Castelo,
Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy,
Rep. Joey Zubiri,
Rep. JV Ejercito,
Rep. Emil Ong,

Rep. Neri Colmenares,
Rep. Theresa Bonoan David,
Rep. Isidro Lico,
Rep. Julieta Cortuna,
Rep. Florencio Noel,

Rep. Jesus Celeste,,
Rep. Toby Tiangco,
Rep. Ponciano Payuyo ,
Rep. Kim Cojuangco,
Rep. Abigail Ferriol,

Rep. Gabriel Quisumbing,
Rep. Ben Salimbangon,
Rep. Rachel del Mar,
Rep. Antonio Tinio,
Rep. Rafael Mariano,

Rep. Emmy de Jesus, and,
Rep. Luz Ilagan.

Still no go signal from House leaders

Some of the congressmen referred media to the Office of the Secretary General of the House for copies of their SALNs.

The problem, however, is the House leadership has yet to authorize release the copies of the SALNs to media.

ABS-CBN News has been asking for copies of the SALNs for months now.

On Tuesday night, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte said they will set into motion the publication of the SALNs.

For his part, chief prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas declined to sign a waiver on the secrecy of his bank accounts, calling it “pa-pogi.”

Tupas said anyone can look at his SALN, which already has a waiver for the Ombudsman to look into his accounts.