Palace reminds SC of need for transparency

Posted at 08/10/2014 3:35 PM

MANILA -- Malacanang reminded the Supreme Court of the lessons learned in the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona amid fresh calls from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the magistrates to disclose their statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs).

In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said transparency – by being true to the SALN – was a lesson that everyone focused on during Corona’s trial.

Corona was ousted from office in May 2012 for failing to include all his peso and dollar accounts in his SALN.

“Dahil natambad na rin sa atensyon ng mga mamamayan—lalong-lalo na ‘nung magkaroon ng impeachment trial— kung gaano kahalaga ito at kung paano ito nagiging instrumento hinggil sa pagtiyak na tinutupad ng mga lingkod-bayan ang kanilang pananagutan sa mga mamamayan,” Coloma said, noting that no less than the President himself discloses his SALN.

Coloma also urged the public to make all government officials – including the SC magistrates – to be accountable and responsible.

“Pinakamabuti po siguro magpahayag din ang ating mga boss, ang mga mamamayan, hinggil diyan dahil hindi naman po dapat lumabas dito na para bang nagkakaroon ng hindi pagkakaunawaan ang mga sangay ng pamahalaan,” he said.

Coloma stressed that the interest of the public is more relevant than pitting one branch against another.

“Siguro hindi na po ‘yan isyu lang ng kung ang Palasyo ba ay may gustong gawin na ganyan o wala, ano. Ang mainam po sigurong tukuyin dito ay ‘yung mismong prinsipyo ng transparency, at accountability at kung paano ba talaga natin gustong palawigin pa ito, o kung paano dito dapat na isinasagawa sa aksyon ng lahat ng nasa pamahalaan sa ano mang sangay,” he said.

The SC earlier junked a request by the BIR for copies of the magistrates’ SALNs. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares then took it to mean that the high court was not following the country’s laws.

The SC explained that it has already disclosed beforehand copies of the SALNs.

“Please note that the Supreme Court has never said they are exempt from the SALN requirement nor that they are creating a new rule for themselves. That members of the media and civil society, including law students, have been able to obtain copies of various SALNs of the Justices is proof enough that the SC Justices are not hiding anything,” Te said in a previous statement.

The SC said the particular request of the BIR had no sufficient basis.