Akbayan on the SALN of Congressional Representatives

This is a press statement from Akbayan.

“Akbayan has always been transparent especially with respect to ensuring the people’s access to our sworn statements of assets, liabilities and networth.”

That was the statement of Akbayan Party following the PCIJ report of House members’ alleged refusal to publicize their statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN), likening Congress to Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“While the PCIJ’s intention is laudable, the story gave the impression that members of the House are withholding the release of their SALN to the media,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello commented. “In fact, the problem stems from administrative bottlenecks in the process of disclosure of SALN to the public.”

Bello also explained that his office readily responds to requests for a copy of his SALN.

“All that our friends in PCIJ needed to do was to approach our office directly, and we would have gladly provided them a copy of our SALN,” Bello added.

For Bello, it should be clear that Congress has always been very public about the wealth of its members.

“Alam nating lahat na taun-taon, naglalabas ng listahan ng mga Kongresistang naka-rank ayon sa kanilang mga pag-aari,” Bello said. “This is the very big difference between Congress and the Supreme Court when the issue is transparency. The Supreme Court has a separate resolution that limits the people’s access to Justices’ SALN, which CJ Corona has exploited. In Congress, we have nothing to hide. In fact, we support the release of the detailed SALN and not just its summary.”

Bello also said that the Silip SALN bill Akbayan filed in August 2011 proposes various measures for the release of the detailed SALN, effectively overcoming the administrative bottlenecks in the process of disclosure.

“The problem that PCIJ has identified is not the submission and release of docs but the existence of administratiev bottlenecks in the process of disclosure. The story should have been clear on this,” Bello reiterated.

“What this bottleneck reveals is the need for Congress to proactively eliminate the roadblocks to people’s free and unimpeded access to information,” Bello concluded. “And especially in the issue of the people’s right to scrutinize the wealth of government officials, it is high time we work on passing the Silip SALN Bill.”

See SALN below