Progressive reps file waivers at Ombudsman’s office
BAYAN Muna partylist Reps. Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares today filed their bank account waivers at the Office of the Ombudsman, saying that this was needed for the Ombudsman to check the veracity of their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
“After the Corona impeachment it is obvious that a higher level of transparency and accountability is needed among public officials. The disclosure of our SALN is simply not enough,” said Casiño.
Casiño clarified that the waiver currently included in the SALN does not cover the bank accounts of public officials but merely allows the Ombudsman to check records of various government agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission or Land Registration Authority to verify the contents of one’s SALN.
“While our SALNs are supposed to be accessible to the public, the same is not true of our bank accounts owing to our bank secrecy laws.That is why the Ombudsman could not look into Chief Justice Corona’s bank accounts for the purpose of checking on the veracity of his SALN. Thus the need for this waiver if we want greater transparency on our SALNs,” the solon added.He clarified that the waiver would allow only the Ombudsman to check their bank accounts to verify their SALN.
“Under this waiver, not everyone can look into our accounts. It is the Ombudsman that will do this, acting on information or complaints from the public. If anyone suspects us of lying about our SALN, particularly on our cash assets, then they can tell the Ombudsman who will then check our bank accounts,” said Casiño.
Casiño also decried the statement of some congressmen that disclosing their SALN to the public would leave them vulnerable to attacks from political rivals. “This is mandated by law. The SALN should be disclosed to friend or foe alike. That’s what transparency is all about. So what if the information is used by one’s rivals? As long as the SALN is truthful there is nothing to fear,” Casiño said.