Grace Poe seeks review of 'restrictive rules' on SALNs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2016 07:48 PM

MANILA - Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged Malacañang to reconsider its rules regarding the release of Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) of officials, noting that restrictive guidelines may hamper the move for transparency and easier access.

This, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General released a list of exceptions on President Rodrigo Duterte's executive order on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the executive branch.

In a statement, Poe lauded the Palace's push for the full implementation of the executive order on FOI by publishing the exceptions, adding that most of the said exceptions are similar to those contained in her version of the FOI billed passed by the Senate during the 16th Congress.

"While most of the draft exceptions are identical with those contained in my current version of the FOI bill that passed the Senate last 16th Congress and which are based on well-settled constitutional principles, law and jurisprudence, I wish Malacanang would reconsider removing the restrictive rules regarding the release of SALNs of Executive Officials. It would serve the spirit of transparency better if the SALNs of the officials will be posted on their agency's website for ready access by the public, with only the sensitive personal details redacted to protect privacy," she said.

Poe, however, noted that some of the "restrictive rules" regarding the release of SALNs of officials "appear contrary" to the intent of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees.

"This restrictive guideline on SALNs appears contrary to the intent of R.A. 6713, not to mention its being inconsistent with the President's public pronouncement and intent to push for the relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Law concerning public officials," she added.

Poe likewise raised concerns on the exemption on the release of details surrounding congressional funds disbursement.

"I also raise concerns on exempting the release of details surrounding congressional funds disbursements which are patently public documents and of paramount public concern," she said.

A draft of the FOI manual of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) lists 166 exceptions, which includes restrictions on public access to the SALN of officials.

Duterte signed the executive order on FOI last July, providing for full disclosure of government records and transactions.

The FOI executive order covers departments and line agencies under the executive branch, including government-owned and -controlled corporations and state universities.

READ: Duterte inks FOI executive order