Palace: House’s strict SALN rules may violate constitution

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2019 10:12 AM

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said the strict rules adopted by the House of Representatives with regard to the release of lawmakers’ statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) may be violative of the constitution.

Under House Resolution 2467 adopted under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the public will now need the majority consent of lawmakers in order to access their SALNs.

Individual requests for SALNs of lawmakers will have to be filed before the Secretary General’s Office, except for those covered by subpoena. If the request for a SALN is approved, the requesting party has to pay P300 per copy of the SALN.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said such a procedure may be “perceived as a transgression of Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) of the Constitution”.

Panelo noted that Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees “makes the said document readily available to the public.”

“Any stringent measure which burdens the people in obtaining public information may not be consistent with transparency and accountability of public officials,” Panelo said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the resolution imposes "stringent and repressive requirements for the public" to access the SALNs of lawmakers.

“What is so sacrosanct about the contents of a Representative’s SALN that the access to it by the public and media is made inordinately restrictive and tedious as contained in the proposed House Resolution No. 1410 on the Rules referring to, among others, access to SALNs of Members of the House?” he said.

“Topping the stringent procedure is the condition that any request for access and disclosure must have the imprimatur of the majority in plenary session.”

Vice President Leni Robredo also slammed the House rule, saying it is further erodes the people’s trust in the lower chamber.