Espinoza: Unconstitutional

Free Zone

MALACAÑANG does not conform to the move of the congressmen in putting more stringent restrictions to get copies of their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) as this would be contrary to the intention of the law on transparency and more particularly Art. XI, Section 17 of the Constitution that requires government officials and employees to file their SALN every year.

Presidential Spokesman Sal Panelo opined that the new guidelines set by the congressmen in Resolution 2467, which makes it difficult for someone to get a copy of their SALN, may be unconstitutional. He does not, however, want to intervene in the works of the Legislative. But he suggested to go to Court and question its validity.

I wrote this issue yesterday in my column in Superbalita questioning the wisdom of the majority congressmen in passing Resolution 2467 that we could only suspect that they are hiding something, what the public deserves to know about them as their representatives in Congress.

Worse, whatever is the intention of the authors of Resolution 2467 could be misunderstood that they have hidden wealth, which they may have accumulated while in office. And we can’t blame most people if they think so. Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman even asked, what are they afraid of? (referring to the authors of Resolution 2467).

Majority congressmen under the wings of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo passed Resolution 2467 that sets the exacting guidelines before anyone, and more particularly the members of the press, could get a copy of the congressmen’s SALN. Worse, if the request is granted, the requesting party is made to pay P300.

Without necessarily being biased, but the measure is, without doubt, designed to prevent the members of the press from having easy access to the congressmen’s SALN. It’s not a secret matter that some members of the Lower House made a fortune while in office.

The P300 fee to get a copy of the congressmen’s SALN is another means to discourage the members of the press from asking for a copy as this would mean lots of money. Imagine, there are 297 members of the Lower House and this would translate to a total amount of P89,100 at P300 each. Perhaps, the authors thought that members of the press could not afford the amount.

Consider that under this resolution the requesting party is required to execute an affidavit with the promise not to make public any information that may damage their persons or their private lives. This restriction only shows that the authors and those who support it have hidden wealth.

Vice Pres. Leni Robredo also criticized this measure as putting the congressmen above the law and on the other government workers or civil servants who comply with the requirement of the law on transparency and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards that mandates government officials and employees to file their SALN every year.

Resolution 2467 was conceptualized after the Lower House is under the leadership of Speaker Arroyo, former president, who was charged and detained for graft and corruption during the administration of former president Noynoy Aquino. She was out of hospital detention after President Duterte assumed office.

With the coming midterm polls on May 13, 2019, the voters should reject these congressmen who authored and supported Resolution 2467 that is designed to cover up their misdeeds.


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