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Ombudsman denies lawyer’s request for copies of Duterte’s SALN

The Office of the Ombudsman has denied a lawyer’s request for copies of the asset statements of President Rodrigo Duterte from 2016 to 2020, citing its rules on access to such documents.

Lawyer Dino De Leon posted on Facebook on Monday a copy of the July 22 letter stating that Ombudsman Samuel Martires rejected the request pursuant to Memorandum Circular 1 issued by his office last year.

Under the rules, anyone who requests a copy of a public official's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) must secure the consent of the declarant before the request is evaluated by the Ombudsman.

The SALN may also be released if the requester is the declarant or his/her authorized representative, if the request is upon lawful order of the court in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman's investigation units.

A similar request was denied by the Office of the President (OP) last November.

The OP had advised De Leon to ask for the documents from the Ombudsman, which is the repository of the original SALNs of the President, the Vice President, and members of constitutional commissions.

“Bakit takot na takot sila na ipakita ang SALN ng Pangulo? Kung walang tinatago, wala dapat ikatakot [Why are they so afraid to show the SALN of the President. You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide]. The law is very clear: the SALN of public officials should be accessible to the public,” De Leon said.

“With the missing pandemic funds and the Pharmally corruption issue, it is important for us to access the SALN of our public officials, including the President. This is a fundamental part of public accountability and checks and balances against corruption,” he added.

He said the administration “weaponized” the SALN against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno yet the government refused to release the President’s SALN.

In a statement on August 30, Malacañang insisted that the release of Duterte's SALN is under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

“The stance of the Office of the President has been clear and consistent: We leave it to the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent constitutional body, to release to the public President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s SALN,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“The President has complied with his constitutional duty to submit or file his SALN.” — BM, GMA News