The Palace takes note of the report issued by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) citing the alleged failure of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the President to provide media a copy of the President’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) for 2018.
The President has complied with what the Constitution or law requires – the timely submission of a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. Neither instrument requires the President to personally and directly furnish a copy thereof to the media or to whomever wants it. There is a mandated procedure under the law to access the same.
The Office of the President is not the repository of the SALNs of the President. Per Memorandum Circular No. 3 (series of 2015) of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the instrumentality which has the authority to carry out the provisions of Republic Act No. 6713, it is the Office of the Ombudsman which is the repository of the original SALNs of the President, the Vice President and the Constitutional Officials. This circular was reiterated by the Office of the Ombudsman in its Memorandum Circular No. 1 (series of 2018). It is clear therefore that it is the Office of the Ombudsman where the said SALNs are kept, and not the Office of the President.
Accordingly, PCIJ may want to direct its request to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Office of the President, can not dictate upon the Office of the Ombudsman the course of action it wishes to undertake relative to such request given that the latter is a separate and independent institution that we have no control of.
We take strong exception to the thoughts bordering to innuendo of a few that the failures of the PCIJ in getting a copy of the President’s SALN can be ascribed to the President’s policy on transparency. Such accusation is baseless if not malicious.
Salvador S. Panelo
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
& Presidential Spokesperson