Ombudsman limits access to public officials' SALNs

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2020 04:10 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2020 05:11 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)— The Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday limited public access to Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of government officials, allowing release only for official investigations, by court order, or upon authority from officials themselves. 

Ombudsman Samuel Martires, in a Sept. 1 memorandum, listed qualifications needed to gain access to an official's SALN — a document that details the net worth of a person in office.

Access to officials' SALNs will be limited to the following based on the new guidelines:

  •  Duly authorized representative of public officials
  •  Persons who made the request upon lawful order of the court in relation to a pending case
  •  Offices, bureaus, and units of the Ombudsman for the purpose of conducting a fact-finding investigation.

The Ombudsman's memo said "no SALN will be furnished to the requester" unless authorized by the public official who had filed the document requested.

"All requests to inspect or to take picture of the SALN will be denied," the memorandum noted.

Even government agencies cannot simply acquire copies of public officials SALNs unless officials themselves allow it.

"All requests by government agencies for the SALNs of their officials and employees for any purpose shall be denied unless the request form is supported by the declarant’s notarized letter of authority," the memorandum stated.

Should an individual insist that a certain public official's SALN needs to be publicized on the basis of a lifestyle check, he or she should 
submit a verified complaint together with evidence for proper action of the Office of the Ombudsman.

All requests for SALNs should be directed to the Office of the Ombudsman's Central Records Division or its Case Records Evaluation, Monitoring and Enforcement Bureau in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Under the country's charter, all public officials and employees, whether regular or under temporary status, are required to file a SALN.

Making public the SALN of top government officials is important in ensuring transparency and accountability as it helps in the lifestyle check of officials.

Several public officers have been removed from their posts over issues with their SALNs, prominently the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.