Ombudsman suspends lifestyle checks on government officials, employees

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020   •   959

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires has temporarily suspended the conduct of lifestyle checks among government officials and employees.

“Ngayong ako’y nag-assume bilang Ombudsman, ipinatigil ko muna iyong lifestyle check dahil matagal na ako may question. May duda ako sa probisyon ng batas tungkol sa lifestyle check,” Martires said.

[Now that I assumed as the Ombudsman, I ordered the suspension of lifestyle check because I personally have questions regarding it. I doubt the provision of the law on lifestyle check.]

During Tuesday’s (September 22) hearing at the Lower House on the 2021 proposed budget of his office, Martires clarified why he also imposed stricter rules on the release of a statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of government officials. 

Martires observed that many use such an important document for their own interest just to pin down their rivals.

The Ombudsman stressed the need to amend Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees because it is, most of the time, misconstrued. 

“I was about to propose sa Congress to amend Republic Act 6713 because there are provisions there na hindi malabo pero parang walang hulog sa logic [which may be clear but illogical],” the former Supreme Court Justice said.

Martires believes no one has the right to judge any government employee for his or her priorities in life or if he or she chooses to live beyond his or her means.

“Let me explain why I suspended it. They say: ‘You are living beyond your means.’ There’s a government employee who earns about P50,000 a month and tries to save his money so he can buy his dream car. He was able to save money. When BMW announced a sale, he was able to give a down payment. He is able to pay for it monthly. Can we say he is living beyond his means? I don’t think so. Probably he must have distorted values. He must have distorted priorities,” he shared.

“Ano ang pakialam natin sa buhay ng may buhay kung hindi naman siya nagnanakaw? Kung wala siyang inaagrabyadong tao? Kung siya’y nangungutang lang para masunod ang layaw niya? [Why bother with another person’s life when he is not stealing anything? When he is not aggrieving anyone? If he borrows money just to buy himself luxury?] I mean this is something that we really have to re-define,” he added.

But the official clarified that his strict policy on the release of SALN is limited only to SALNs under the custody of his office.

He explained that a SALN has no use in several cases in court even in plunder but many are using it as well as the policy for lifestyle checking to malign the person of an employee of the government.

As for the agency’s budget, Ombudsman Martires expressed dismay over a slash in their proposed budget amounting to P4.6-B which they planned to use for hiring additional personnel for them to effectively execute their mandate.

Moving forward, the official wants to create a bureau that will focus on the administrative cases against public servants and to hire additional field investigators. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Villar, Pacquiao among billionaire senators in 2020

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar remains the richest senator based on the 2020 Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Based on the SALN released by the Senate of the Philippines, Villar has a net worth of P3.87 billion followed by boxing Senator Manny Pacquiao who has a net worth of P3.18 billion.

Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima ranked the poorest among senators with a net worth of P9.54 million.

The release of SALNs has been a practice to inform the public of the assets of government officials for transparency.

Though recently, Malacañang has been arguing against it saying President Rodrigo Duterte may opt not to release his SALN and leave the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.

List of richest, poorest senators based on 2020 SALN:

Cynthia Villa P3,875,696,435
Manny Pacquiao – P3,187,092,600
Ralph Recto – P581,071,657
Juan Miguel Zubiri – P220,736,702
Ramon Revilla – P179,958,909
Juan Edgardo Angara – P150,898,358
Franklin Drilon – P106,862,853
Grace Poe – P101,327,620
Sherwin Gatchalian – 91,213,596
Vicente Sotto III – P85,643,477
Pia Cayetano – P84,891,678
Richard Gordon – P77,569,572
Manuel Lapid – P74,948,572
Francis Tolentino – P59,582,000
Nancy Binay – P59,770,251
Panfilo Lacson – P58,330,268
Aquilino Pimentel III – P37,203,400
Imee Marcos – P36,270,467
Ronald Dela Rosa – P34,383,136
Joel Villanueva – P33,029,725
Francis Pangilinan – P23,941,333
Christopher Lawrence Go – P22,274,508
Risa Hontiveros – P16,720, 359
Leila De Lima – P9,544,111

DOTr orders department officials to submit SALN to anti-corruption task force

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — In accordance with the national government’s initiative to curb graft and corruption in all government departments, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has ordered its officials to submit their Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to the anti-graft task force.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the department supports the government and has already ordered all the heads of agencies and other DOTr officials, including officials’ chief-of-staff, secretaries, executive assistants, to submit their SALN.

“Makikiisa kami d’yan sa mega task force. Nag-meeting na kami [at susundin namin ang requirement ng PACC (Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission) para sa ganoon, maipakita na kaisa kami dun sa pagwalis at pag-address ng corruption sa gobyerno (We will support the mega task force. We already had a meeting and agreed to comply with the requirement asked for by the PACC so we can show that we are cooperating with the government in addressing and eradicating corruption),” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) last October to probe graft and corruption in all government offices. AAC

Roque to ask Duterte if he wants to release his SALN

Marje Pelayo   •   October 30, 2020

 MANILA, Philippines — Members of the opposition have questioned Malacañang anew why it cannot release to the public the details of President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and network (SALN) following the release of the senators’ SALN.

To end further speculations on the issue, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he will discuss the matter with the President and ask him if he wants his SALN to be made public.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating presidente. Para matapos na po itong issue na ito ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang presidente para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN, [I will talk to the President. To end this issue, I will ask him if he would permit making his SALN public],” Roque said.

“Pero wala pong itinatago ang ating presidente. Bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng presidente ang kaniyang SALN, [But the president is not hiding anything. Before the Ombudsman released its guidelines, the President had been releasing his SALN to the public],” he added.

In a report released by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the last time President Duterte’s SALN was made public was in 2016 and 2017 but it was no longer available in 2018 and 2019.

Malacañang insists that the Chief Executive is only following the guidelines issued by the Office of the Ombudsman over his SALN.

“Tatanungin po natin iyan sa Presidente. Kasi ang kaniyang posisyon bilang isang abogado, sundin namin ang guidelines ng Ombudsman [We will ask the President because his position as a lawyer is to follow the guidelines of the Ombudsman],” Roque said. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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