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Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo has defended the move of the Office of the Ombudsman to limit the access to government officials’ statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) to declarants and officers conducting investigations.

Panelo said the move would protect the personal information the declarant put in his/her SALN such as address and names of family members.

“Paano kung iyon ay makuha ng mga kaaway nila, edi nanganib naman ang buhay. Kaya ang sinasabi ni Ombudsman Sammy (Martires), kailangan opisyal at may dahilan kung bakit ibibigay sa iyo (What if the enemy gets a hand on their SALN, their lives would be in danger. This is why Ombudsman Sammy stressed the need for an official reason behind the request),” he said in his commentary program ‘Counterpoint’ on Friday.

Panelo noted that the revised guidelines on SALN access do not entirely prohibit the public from requesting a copy of the document.

“May katuwiran sapagkat ginagamit nga ng mga kalaban itong SALN, hindi naman po pinagbawal, hinigpitan po lamang (It’s reasonable because it is being weaponized by the declarant’s enemies),” he said.

Under Memorandum Circular No. 1 dated September 1, the Office of the Ombudsman declared tighter rules for access to public officials’ SALNs.

The requester may only be given a copy of the SALN if he/she is the declarant; the request is upon lawful order of the court in relation to a pending case, and the request is made by a Field Investigation Office/Bureau/Unit for the purpose of a fact-finding investigation.

No SALN would also be furnished if the requester failed to present a notarized letter of authority from the declarant allowing the release of the requested document. (PNA)

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