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Ombudsman said no law requiring SALNs, says budget sponsor

Ombudsman says no law on SALN

There is no law requiring public officials to submit their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, the sponsor in the House of Representatives of the Ombudsman's P4.98-billion proposed budget in 2024 said on Wednesday.

Asked during the plenary deliberations about the non-disclosure by public officials of their SALNs, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante adverted to Ombudsman Samuel Martires who was present during the proceedings.

“Unang una, ang sabi ng ating Ombudsman [Samuel Martires], there is actually no law that we should submit the SALN,” Abante said.

(According to our Ombudsman, there is no law saying that we should submit the SALN.)

Asked about lifestyle checks on government officials, Abante said, "There is no problem with the Ombudsman conducting lifestyle checks if there is an authority given by the agency."

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that, " "All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households."

GMA News Online has sought comment from the Office of the Ombudsman as regards Section 8 and the Ombudsman's remark as reported by Abante that there was no law requiring the submission of SALNs.

Martires in September 2020 restricted access to public officials’ SALNs by requiring consent of the SALN’s owner before a SALN request can be evaluated by the Ombudsman’s office. 

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, who asked the questions on SALNs and lifestyle checks, said the Ombudsman should be proactive in going after crooks in the government, whether there is a legislative gap or not since such is the Ombudsman’s mandate.

"The disclosure of SALN and conducting lifestyle check on the part of the Ombudsman is important for check and balance,” Brosas said.

“If there is no law, such should not limit the Ombudsman from fulfilling its mandate to ensure that public funds are spent judiciously. In carrying out its Constitutional mandate, we expect the Ombudsman to be more proactive in addressing corruption issues,” she added. —NB, GMA Integrated News