By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Majority Floor Leader Fredenil Castro (Capiz) has defended the House approval of a resolution that imposes stricter guidelines on public access to Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) of lawmakers.
Castro belied claims by the opposition that adoption of House Resolution No. 2467 was railroaded, pointing out that proper legislative processes, including committee deliberation, were observed.
“HR 2467 remains faithful to the principle of transparency. Accountability will have to be guaranteed by both the public and the SALN filers,” said Castro.
The Capiz solon stressed that concerned agencies such as the Civil Service Commission have been consulted prior to the adoption of HR 2467 while the House Committee on Justice has strongly endorsed the measure.
Castro said a number of legislators and even House personnel have complained of becoming the subject of fishing expedition for harassment cases, blackmail and character assassination—either election-related or personal.
“While it is true that we have the obligation to file SALN and observe transparency, we also have to impose responsibility to all so that the rights, welfare and safety of everybody concerned is protected,” said Castro.
He explained that the new guidelines on SALN releases of lawmakers was similar to what the Supreme Court (SC) observes with regards to the same document.
Under the resolution, the SALN Review and Compliance Committee will be the one to act on all requests for copies of filed SALNs of House members, officials and personnel “provided that access to copies of the SALNs of House members by the public shall also be approved by a majority of the House in plenary session; and undertake a continuing review and rationalization of these rules.”
The SALN Review and Compliance Committee–which composed of House legislators–will be the one to decide if a request for SALN copies is valid or not.
The measure was principally authored by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Castro although it was originally proposed by their predecessors, particularly ouster Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte) and former Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte).