By Tetch Torres

5:09 pm | Monday, September 17th, 2012

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Monday has eased the rules on the public’s access to Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan, office spokesperson and chairman of the Ombudsman’s Committee on Internal Rules and Regulations, said the new SALN rules subscribe to the paradigm shift from “everything is secret unless allowed” to “everything is open unless restricted.”

The new SALN guidelines, released under Memorandum Circular No. 03 dated 11 September 2012, shall take effect on October 15, 2012.

Under the new guidelines, unlike the old rules which identifies only three types of SALN request purposes (press report, student research, court subpoena), the new rules provide that all requests for copies of SALNs shall be granted, subject only to exceptions provided by law or jurisprudence, viz:

1.      The Office of the Ombudsman is not the official repository of the requested SALN;

2.      The requested SALN is not on file or in actual possession of the Office;

3.      The purpose of the request is contrary to law, morals or public policy;

4.      The request is for any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;

5.      The request is prompted by sheer idle curiosity;

6.      The identity of the requesting party appears to be fictitious;

7.      The requester has a derogatory records of having misused any information previously furnished; and

8.      There are grounds to believe that the request is being made with a plainly discernible improper motive (e.g., harassment) or other analogous circumstances.

The new rules also enumerate the different Ombudsman offices where a person should request copies of SALNs of listed public officers and employees, as differentiated from those that are obtainable from, for instance, Civil Service Commission or the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court as official repositories of other SALNs.

In treating the SALN Request Form as a public record, the new Guidelines allow the requester to indicate in the said form his reservation as to making known to the concerned public official or employee, if the latter so minds to inquire, the fact of the requester making the SALN request, unless the public official or employee can demonstrate that the specific requester committed a violation or encroachment of his/her rights and that his/her letter-request to obtain a copy of the particular SALN Request Form is for purposes of availing legalremedies.

The new Guidelines also maintained the provision that a requester may directly report to the Ombudsman’s fact-finding office/bureau and initiate a lifestyle check of public officials or employees even where their SALNs cannot be secured for any reason, as long as the requester has reason to believe that their assets and properties are unreasonably disproportionate to their income.

“All the requester needs to do is to subscribe the SALN Request Form (downloadable from the website), present the required identification cards, and pay minimal reproduction/certification fees,” he advised.

Under the new Guidelines, the requester is required to present the original of at least two IDs, one of which is a government-issued ID bearing his picture and signature; and in case of members of the press, the other ID should be an official Press ID with proof of affiliation or accreditation as a legitimate media practitioner.  In case of student-requesters, a current Student ID with an endorsement from the proper school authorities shall suffice.



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