Wednesday July 18, 2018

Palace vows cooperation with Senate probe on SALN redactions

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday pledged that the executive branch would cooperate on a planned Senate probe on the redactions made on the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networths (SALNs) of Cabinet officials.
"The executive would cooperate and attend the investigation on SALNs, if once and called by the Senate," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed Monday a resolution urging the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization, and professional regulation to investigate the redactions made in the 2016 SALNs of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet secretaries.
Trillanes, in Senate Resolution 514, sought the inquiry to determine whether or not the Cabinet members who failed to disclose detailed information in their SALNs committed a violation.
"Despite the presence of several legislations calling for the public disclosure of the SALN, public officials have found a way to circumvent it," he said.
"There is an imperative necessity to investigate this matter, in aid of legislation, in order to determine whether or not certain public officials violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Government Employees and/or the Philippine Constitution," the senator said.
Trillanes made the appeal after the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, in a report dated September 22, revealed "intense" redactions in the SALNs of some 29 Cabinet members.
Around 28 presidential appointees were found to have blacked out the acquisition costs of their personal properties, 24 hid the exact locations of their real properties, and 23 redacted the acquisition costs of their real properties.
Abella maintained that the Cabinet officials did not violate the law, despite the redactions in their respective SALNs.
He also guaranteed that the next submission of SALNs would be in compliance with the implementation of executive order on Freedom of Information (FOI), as well as the Data Privacy Act.
"Implementation of FOI is a learning process, especially with the concurrent application of the Data Privacy Act. The Executive has raised the SALN issue with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and we are waiting for their guidance," Abella said.
"Meanwhile, we reiterate that there were no violations committed related to the release of SALNs of some Cabinet members," he added.
On Tuesday, Abella gave the public an assurance that government officials would only limit the redaction in SALNs to "sensitive information."
This came after NPC deputy commissioner Ivy Patdu said that assets, liabilities, and networth "should be disclosed without redactions," as provided by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. (SunStar Philippines)