House Bans Release Of Prosecutors’ SALNs

MANILA, Philippines - The leadership of the House of Representatives has imposed a temporary ban on the disclosure of contents of the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of lawmakers tasked as prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

Ironically, Corona's impeachmentcase stems from an alleged misrepresentation in his SALN.

In a press briefing, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the Chamberwill not release copies of the SALN of the 11-man panel of prosecutors until the Senate impeachment trial is over.

Belmonte justified withholding the full version of the lawmakers' SALNs by saying that the House leadership does not want to divert public attention from the Corona impeachment.

He said releasing the contents of the SALN will only subject the lawmakers to full public scrutiny, thus, distract people from the Corona case.

Belmonte made this clarification amid complaints from House reporters that they had been given the run around on the issue by the Office of the Secretary General, which has the safekeeping task for SALN returns submitted last April 30.

Many congressmen, including non-members of the prosecution panel, have themselves rejected requests to give media copies of their SALN.

"Their actions have raised strong suspicions that congressmen are themselves guilty of the accusations they have thrown against Corona," said Charlie Manalo, a reporter of one national daily (not the Manila Bulletin