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Ombudsman, not OP, releases president’s SALN, Palace tells PCIJ

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By Prince Golez

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) should request for a copy of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) for 2018 from the Office of the Ombudsman, not from the Office of the President (OP), Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement came after the PCIJ in an article entitled “Duterte’s secret SALN: The lie of his FOI” dated December 11, 2019 cited the alleged failure of the Ombudsman and the OP to provide media a copy of Duterte’s 2018 SALN.

Panelo insisted that the chief executive has timely submitted his SALN for 2018, which remains unreleased eight months after the April 30 deadline for its filing.

“Neither instrument requires the President to personally and directly furnish a copy thereof to the media or to whoever wants it. There is a mandated procedure under the law to access the same,” Duterte’s legal counsel said.

“The OP is not the repository of the SALNs of the President, he added.

Under Memorandum Circular No. 3 (series of 2015) of the Civil Service Commission, Panelo said the Office of the Ombudsman is the repository of the original SALNs of the President, the Vice President and the Constitutional Officials.

“This circular was reiterated by the Office of the Ombudsman in its Memorandum Circular No. 1 (series of 2018). It is clear therefore that it is the Office of the Ombudsman where the said SALNs are kept, and not the Office of the President,” according to him.

The Palace official said the OP cannot dictate upon the Office of the Ombudsman the course of action it wishes to undertake relative to such request since the latter is a separate and independent institution.

“We take strong exception to the thoughts bordering to innuendo of a few that the failures of the PCIJ in getting a copy of the President’s SALN can be ascribed to the President’s policy on transparency. Such accusation is baseless if not malicious,” Panelo concluded.

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