Ombudsman rejects lawyer’s request for Duterte’s SALN

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his 6th State of the Nation Address (SONA), at the House of Representatives July 26, 2021. (Source: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his 6th State of the Nation Address (SONA), at the House of Representatives July 26, 2021. (Source: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

The Office of the Ombudsman has rejected a lawyer's request for copies of the president's asset statements from 2016 to 2020.

In a Facebook post on Monday (September 6) that tackled the public’s right to access the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of the president, lawyer Dino de Leon revealed a copy of a letter dated July 22 stating that Ombudsman Samuel Martires rejected the request.

“Please be advised that Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires disapproved your request, pursuant to Ombudsman Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2020,” the officer in charge at the antigraft body’s central records section said in the letter.

The rules of the circular mandate that consent of the declarant is necessary for anyone who requests a copy of a public official's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims about upholding transparency in the administration, this isn't the first time de Leon's request for Duterte's SALN was denied. 

In November of last year, the Office of the President (OP) denied a similar request.

The OP had advised de Leon to ask for the documents from the Ombudsman, which is the repository of the original SALNs of the President, the Vice President, and members of constitutional commissions.

“Why are they so afraid to show the SALN of the President? You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. The law is very clear: the SALN of public officials should be accessible to the public,” de Leon wrote in his post.

The lawyer highlighted the importance of the document, pointing out the recent Pharmally scandal which involved billions of pesos. “With the missing pandemic funds and the Pharmally corruption issue, it is important for us to access the SALN of our public officials, including the President. This is a fundamental part of public accountability and checks and balances against corruption,” he added.

De Leon recalled how the administration “weaponized” the SALN against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, yet the government refused to release the President’s SALN.

Meanwhile, in a statement last August, the Palace maintained that the release of Duterte's SALN is under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

“We leave it to the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent constitutional body, to release to the public President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s SALN,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Duterte's last known net worth is P28.5 million ($571,000), which is based on his last publicly available SALN released in 2017. The statement also showed that the president's sole liability was a P1 million ($20,000) personal loan from Davao businessman Samuel Uy.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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