New Ombudsman policy applies 'retroactively' to Duterte's undisclosed SALNs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — Even the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth or SALN of President Rodrigo Duterte from the past years cannot be disclosed due to the recent directive of the Office of the Ombudsman on restricted SALN rules.

Appropriations committee vice chair Romeo Jalosjos, who defended the Ombudsman's 2021 budget as sponsor on Wednesday, reiterated that Memorandum Circular 1 filed by the anti-corruption body applies "retroactively," even to the SALNs that were filed in the previous years.

The new rules, which tightened access to SALN of public officials, came long after reporters began requesting for copies of Duterte's 2018 and 2019 SALN to no avail.

"Ang memo [was issued] Sept 1, 2020. Apektado po ang 2018, 2019," Jalosjos said, referring to Duterte's SALNs.

[Translation: The memo was issued September 1, 2020. The 2018, 2019 SALNs are affected.]

Responding to the queries of ACT-Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, Jalosjos said that requests for Duterte's SALN were rejected due to the recent directive.

"Mayroon po (requests) but because of the restriction, na-deny ang request para sa SALN ng ating pangulo."

[Translation: There were requests but because of the restriction, access to the President's SALN were denied.]

Under the memorandum, a copy of the SALN will only be provided if the requester is an authorized representative of the declarant, the request is upon lawful order of the court in relation to a pending case, or if the request is made by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office/Bureau/Unit for the purpose of fact-finding probe.

Section 9 of the memorandum states that the provisions "apply to all SALN requests filed upon effectivity" of the measure, while all pending requests will be acted upon pursuant to the memorandum.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier reasoned that he had to make such directive because SALNs were being "weaponized" against political enemies.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said in 2019 that it is the first time in the last 30 years that a President has not released his or her SALN to the public.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque previously noted that Duterte is "not keeping anything from the public," despite criticisms of his non-disclosure.

READ: Ombudsman tightens rules on access to SALNs of government officials