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Martires stops lifestyle checks on public officials, says wealth does not translate to corruption


Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Tuesday said he has stopped the conduct of lifestyle checks on public officials, saying failure in such does not prove than an official is corrupt.

Speaking before lawmakers during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives, Martires also said the law that covers lifestyle check on public officials should be amended for being "illogical."

“Nung umupo ako, pinatigil ko muna ang lifestyle check kasi matagal na ako may duda sa probisyon ng batas tungkol sa lifestyle check. Gusto ko i-propose sa Congress ng amendments sa 6713 kasi yung provisions there, malabo, walang hulog sa logic,” Martires said.

“Bakit ko pinatigil? What is living beyond your means? Iyong kumikita ng P50,000 a month, lives in a small house, nakaipon, bumili ng BMW na promo, zero interest, kayang-kaya niya hulugan, is he living beyond his means? I don’t think so. What he has are distorted values and distorted priorities,” he added.

Republic Act 6713 is the law on Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public officials, which provides that “[P]ublic officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income” and that “they should not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.”

“Anong pakialam natin? Bakit natin siya huhusgahan na bumili ng BMW kahit ang bahay niya walang paradahan? Anong pakialam natin sa buhay ng may buhay kung hindi naman siya nagnanakaw?” Martires said.

“We have to redefine what is living beyond your means. What is simple living to me may not be simple living to you or anyone.”

SALN

Martires' statement came three weeks after he restricted public access to the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of public officials filed in the Ombudsman.

Section 8C.A of RA 6713, meanwhile, mandates disclosure of SALNs to the public at a certain period of time and as long as the one making the request shoulders the cost of reproduction and mailing of the SALN copies.

Martires, however, said that a SALN does not have use in the prosecution of a graft case.

“Sa Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, hindi namin kailangan ng SALN sa [pagpatunay ng] undue injury, undue advantage, even plunder,” he said.

“Saan ba gagamitin ang SALN? Ginagamit lang ang SALN para siraan ang opisyal ng pamahalaan,” Martires added.

In May 2018, Martires, then an associate justice of the Supreme Court, voted to oust then-Chief Justice Maria Loudes Sereno over her failure to meet the integrity requirement for members of the judiciary, including her failure to disclose her SALN.

The Office of the Ombudsman is proposing a P3.7-billion budget for next year. —KBK, GMA News

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