LAWMAKERS on Friday, February 1, criticized the resolution that seeks to curtail the public’s access to lawmakers’ Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN).

According to Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, the resolution is a slap in the face for the administration’s campaign against corruption and a “shield of protection for corrupt government officials.”

“Imposing higher fees and requiring a plenary vote are extremely restrictive considering that SALNs are public documents,” Alejano said.

Under House Resolution 2467, the request to gain access to lawmakers SALN will need the plenary’s approval.

Anyone who will request an access to the lawmakers SALN will also be required to sign a sworn undertaking and declaration. The request will have to be examined first by the SALN review and compliance committee before it goes to the plenary.

“Instead of promoting transparency and public accountability, the Lower House seems to be more eager to hide from public scrutiny,” said Alejano.

Akbayan Party List Rep. Tom Villarin, for his part, called the resolution “unconstitutional.”

“The House has thrown away the tenets of public accountability and transparency,” he said.

“HR 2467 goes against the meaning of public office as a public trust. It practically renders the requirement of SALNs by legislators ineffectual if these cannot be divulged. It provides double standards in exacting accountability,” he said.

Villarin believes that the resolution should be challenged before the court and be stricken down as unconstitutional.

Gabriela lawmakers, for their part, said the resolution “imposes barriers to transparency and freedom of information based on ridiculous and suspicious grounds.”

House Resolution No. 2467 states that the “House recognizes the circumstances in which the information in the SALN of its members may be used to render them and members of their family vulnerable to threats to life and security, influence the action of the House or its Committees and consequently, undermine the independence of the legislative branch.”

Rep. Arlene Brosas likened the new rules to passing a law.

“Dadaan muna sa butas ng karayom bago makakuha ang isang mamamayan ng kopya ng SALN ng isang kongresista sa ilalim ng bagong rules.”

“Imagine, you need to get majority approval of the House to just get a copy of their SALNs, after a stringent review by a new SALN review and compliance committee. Para kang nagpapasa ng batas,” Brosas said.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said it is ridiculous for House Resolution 2467 to invoke the prevention of damage to records and the safety and security of the lawmakers as there are existing safeguards and data protection laws.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said it seems that the rules “clearly negate the principles of transparency and accountability enshrined in our constitution and laws.”

“Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc will continue to be transparent, as we have always been, by releasing copies of our SALNs to the media, researchers and the public when requested," he said.

"In the spirit of transparency, we will oppose this resolution and we call on our people to also voice out their sentiments and call out our public officials to lead by example and make their SALNs available to the public,” Zarate added. (SunStar Philippines)