Ombudsman: SALN unnecessary in corruption probe, can be weaponized vs officials


Posted at Sep 22 2020 03:19 PM

Ombudsman Samuel Martires visits the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on July 27, 2018. Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News/File


MANILA— The Office of the Ombudsman said Tuesday it does not need public officials' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to investigate them for corruption and that the document could be weaponized against them. 

The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act does not state that a SALN is necessary for a corruption probe, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said during a budget briefing for his agency at the House of Representatives. 

"Hindi ho namin kailangan ng SALN," he told the House Appropriations Committee. 

(We do not need the SALN.)

"Kasi katulad ng charge ng undue injury dahil mali ang bidding. Hindi ho namin kailangan ng SALN. Giving undue advantage. Hindi ho namin kailangan ng SALN. Plunder, hindi rin ho namin kailangan ng SALN. Ang kailangan namin, ebidensya na that this guy accumulated or amassed wealth by accepting an amount of around P50 million," he went on. 

(For example, in the charge of undue injury due to lack of bidding, we don't need the SALN. With undue advantage, we don't need the SALN. With plunder, we don't need the SALN, too. We need evidence that this guy accumulated or amassed wealth by accepting an amount of around P50 million.) 

Martires this month limited public access to SALNs, allowing their release only for official investigations, by court order, or upon authority from officials themselves. 

"So ito lang ang ipinagtataka ko: Bakit pinag-iinitan ang SALN? Saan ho ba gagamitin ang SALN kundi para siraan ang isang kawani o opisyal ng pamahalaan?" said Martires.

(This is what I am wondering about: why are they so hot about the SALN? Where will it be used apart from discrediting a worker or official of the government.) 

"Kasi kung ituturo nila saan pwedeng gamitin ang SALN, gagawin ho namin 'yun. Nagagamit 'yun sa lifestyle ano, nakikita namin ano assets nila. Pero hindi ho dito sa corrupt practices," he added. 

(If they will tell us where the SALN can be used, we will do that. That can be used for a lifestyle check, it lets us see their assents. But not for corrupt practices.)

During the Aquino administration, the Senate Impeachment Court used the SALN to kick out then Chief Justice Renato Corona. 

The Supreme Court in 2018 also cited then Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno's failure to file SALNs to void her appointment

Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News