MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday limiting the public's access to government officials' declaration of wealth gives them the "license" to hide their riches.
The Ombudsman earlier restricted access to officials' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), allowing their release only for official investigations, by court order, or upon authority from officials themselves.
"Maling-mali. Maling-mali iyong signals na binibigay," she said in her weekly radio show.
(It's very wrong. It sends the wrong signals.)
"Kapag inalis mo iyong SALN ano bang mensahe iyong binibigay mo? Anong mensahe iyong binibigay mo sa tao, na ang korapsyon hindi priority ng pamahalaan?"
(If you remove the SALN, what message are you giving to the public? That [addressing] corruption in not a priority of government?)
Ombudsman Samuel Martires in a budget briefing told lawmakers that SALNs were unnecessary in corruption probes against officials and that the document could be weaponized against them.
Robredo said she was saddened by Martires' statement and hit his example that a luxury car was not an indication of ill-gotten wealth.
"Nakakalungkot, Ka Ely. Ilang beses ko binasa, eh kasi hindi ako makapaniwala na galing pa sa head ng opisina na dapat nag-iimbestiga," she said.
(It's sad. I read it many times because I could not believe it came from the office that should be the one investigating.)
"Parang binibigyan mo ng license iyong mga public officials na magtago ng kanilang mga yaman na hindi dapat kasi requirement iyon under the law and the Constitution."
(It's like you're giving public officials the license to hide their wealth, which is against the requirement under the law and the Constitution.)
Several public officers have been removed from their posts over issues with their SALNs, one of whom was the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice was nullified over her failure to file her SALN for a 17-year period during her stint as a University of the Philippines professor.