SC denies BIR's request for justices' SALNs

Posted at 07/23/2014 7:36 PM | Updated as of 07/23/2014 10:30 PM

Kim Henares asks: What are they hiding?

MANILA (UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) denied the request of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares to obtain copies of the statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of the justices and officers and employees of the judiciary.

In a resolution dated June 17, 2014 and received by the BIR on Tuesday, July 22, the Supreme Court said that it is denying Henares’ request “for lack of sufficient basis.”

The Court did not elaborate.

Henares also requested for copies of the personal data sheet and curriculum vitae of the justices.

“What are they hiding?” Henares said in a text message to ABS-CBN.

Henares said that the BIR made the request “to determine whether they paid the right taxes,” as they do to all other taxpayers.

She added that the law “is very clear” that “everyone who is with government” must file and provide copies of their SALNs upon request.

“I believe the law is very clear, that everyone who is with government are required to file their SALN and to provide copies thereof upon request, especially if another government agency requests for it. The SALN law was put in place to ensure transparency and accountability of gov't officials and staff, and I believe all branches of gov't are subject to the same standard and rules. Why should it be different for another branch of gov't?” she said.

Henares clarified that the request was made early on, in December 2013, and not a way for the administration to harass the judiciary following the decision declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

'SAME STANDARD'

She said the request was an “offshoot” of the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, saying the BIR wants to apply “the same standard” to “everyone else” and determine whether the right taxes are being paid by justices and members of the judiciary.

“Natandaan niyo ba noong Corona impeachment, nakita natin na marami silang tinatanggap na allowances, wala namang finile na income tax return si Justice Corona. Out of that impeachment, siyempre kung ano ‘yung na-arise na rules and standards, kailangan i-apply sa lahat ng tao, hindi naman pwedeng si Justice Corona lang,” the tax chief said in an interview on dzMM.

Henares stressed that the law does not exempt anyone, and those in the judiciary should set an example to other public servants.

“Now that they’re talking about accountability and transparency, shouldn’t they set the example?” she said.

She also argued that she has a legal basis for the request, as she is “conducting a tax investigation and [also] in relation to the Ma’m Arlene controversy.”

Henares said she plans to re-file her request to obtain SALNs of the justices, officers and employees of the judiciary.