President Rodrigo Duterte has not transgressed any law by leaving it to the Office of the Ombudsman to release his 2018 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) before the public, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte did not need to copy Vice President Leni Robredo or previous presidents who publicized their SALNs.
He explained that the President already did his part in filing his SALN before the Office of the Ombudsman as mandated by the law.
“Maybe that’s their style. This President’s style is different but he has not transgressed any law,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“It doesn’t mean that he will have to follow. He follows the law. The law says you file and he filed,” he added.
Panelo insisted that those who want a copy of the President’s SALN could request for one from the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The law requires them to file their SALN and the repository of those records are with the Ombudsman. That is the job of the Ombudsman to release,” Panelo said.
Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution mandates a public officer or employees to submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth.
Republic Act 6714 designates the Ombudsman’s national office and the custodian of the SALNs of the President, Vice President, senior officials and star-rank military and police officers.
Asked if Palace would urge the Ombudsman to release the Duterte’s SALN, Panelo replied: “We do not interfere with any Constitutional body”.
“Let them (Ombudsman) do the work,” Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, added.
Earlier, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s (PCIJ), in its report titled “Duterte’s secret SALN: The lie of his FOI (Freedom of Information)” and published on Dec. 11, accused Duterte as “a most secretive President when it comes to the details of his wealth” as he has yet to release a copy of his SALN eight months after the April 30 deadline for filing.
Panelo, meanwhile, denied that the President’s refusal to release his SALN before the public meant he was hiding anything.
“If he is hiding anything he would not have filed any SALN,” the Palace official said.
He also insisted that the President has remained committed to his policy of ensuring transparency within the Executive Department.
“As far as the President is concerned, there is no issue. If you want to get a copy of it, then ask the Ombudsman,” Panelo said.
“Transparent na nga (It’s already transparent). When you say transparent, you file. The law does not require him to produce any copy to anybody who wants it,” he added.
He also scored media for being impatient since the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to release the revised guidelines on public access to SALN of government officials.
“The Ombudsman says ‘You wait, I’m doing my guidelines.’ Ba’t di tayo makapag-antay (Why can’t we wait)?” he added.
Panelo dared the PCIJ to file a case against Duterte if it has evidence that he violated Philippine laws concerning the release of SALN. (PNA)