Guidelines on disclosure of judiciary members’ SALN out-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) issued Wednesday the guidelines on the public disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the justices, judges and other members of the judiciary.
In a 22-page en banc resolution penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral-Mendoza, the Court granted the requests made by several media groups and transparency advocates seeking the release of the SALNs, personal data sheet and curriculum vitae of the justices of the SC subject to the limitations and prohibitions provided in Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Court of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Based on the guidelines, the SALNs of the justices will not be released automatically to the public but on a per request basis.
The requesting party is directed to cite the specific purpose and individual interests for seeking a copy of the SALN of the members of the judiciary.
All requests should be filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court of the SC, the Court of Appeals (CA), the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Appeals (CTA).
For the lower courts, the request should be filed with the Office of the Court Administrator, and for attached agencies, with their respective heads of offices.
In the case of request for copies of SALN of the SC, CA, Sandiganbayan and CTA justices, the authority to disclose shall be made by the Court en banc.
While the SC expressed its willingness to have the Clerk of Court furnish copies of the SALN of any of its members, it noted that requests for SALNs must be made under circumstances that “must not endanger, diminish or destroy the independence, and objectivity of the members of the Judiciary in the performance of their judicial functions, or expose them to revenge for adverse decisions, kidnapping, extortion, blackmail or other untoward incidents.”
“Thus, in order to give meaning to the constitutional right of the people to have access to information on matters of public concern, the Court laid down the guidelines to be observed for requests made,” the Court said.
In the case of requesting individuals other than members of the media, the Court guidelines stated their interests should go beyond pure or mere curiosity.
On the other hand, the requests of members of the media seeking copies of the SALN of the members of the judiciary should be supported by proof under oath of their media affiliation and by a similar certification of the accreditation of their respective organizations as legitimate media practitioners.
The requesting party, whether as individuals or as members of the media, must have no derogatory record of having misused any requested information previously furnished to them.
During a special en banc session last May 30, the SC magistrates unanimously voted to approve the public disclosure of their 2011 SALN, but this will have to be covered by guidelines that were taken up in another special en banc session held on June 13.
The decision to disclose their SALN effectively nullifies the SC’s May 2, 1989 resolution during the time of then Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, who was appointed to the High Court by President Benigno Aquino III’s mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino.
The 1989 resolution required court officials to submit their respective SALN before the Office of the Clerk of Court, and which made it unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, for (a) any purpose contrary to morals or public policy, or (b) any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public. (JCV/Sunnex)