Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
One of the most pressing issues in the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is the accusation that the Chief Magistrate has failed to accurately disclose several significant assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). This renewed focus on that document that has obviously not been given the attention it deserves from public officials and the public alike, is probably one of the reasons why the Civil Service Commission has optimistically rolled out a new format for the SALN that requires government officials to reveal far more about their finances than the old form.
As expected, the new SALN got scathing reviews from lawmakers, with some going as far as saying that the new requirements, which include disclosing sources and amount of gross income, personal and family expenses, as well as the amount of total income tax paid; was unconstitutional and could expose public officials to harassment and self-incrimination.
Article XI Section 17 of the Constitution requires every public officer to “submit under oath a declaration of his assets, liabilities and net worth”. The new SALN format is under fire from lawmakers because it is asking them to disclose much more information than they have been used to, such as phone and grocery bills. Considering that Corona is in hot water for a SALN that can only be described as inaccurate, even if he filled out the old format that was less tedious to accomplish and did not require the details the new one is demanding, requiring government officials to submit a more comprehensive and detailed SALN that should be more tedious to complete, could be considered an over-ambitious goal for the CSC.
While the Filipino public would appreciate more honesty from our so- called public servants who have for so long regarded the SALN as an inconsequential piece of paper, the CSC under Chairman Francisco Duque III might want to consider taking things slowly when it comes to the SALN. This means making sure that all government employees, from the head of a branch of government to a newly hired clerk, can properly fill out a simple SALN form before requiring them to reveal more detailed financial information regarding their finances.
Once that is achieved, maybe the CSC can improve the SALN so that it can become an even more effective tool for monitoring the wealth amassed by government officials while they are supposedly serving the country.*