Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SC guidelines on release of SALNs

The high tribunal granted the pending requests made by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), media entities, and several individuals for the SALN’s of the high court’s justices as well as that of the justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) and Sandiganbayan, subject to the limitations imposed by Republic Act (RA) No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees), its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), and the guidelines.

The Supreme Court (SC) has released the guidelines for the release of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of its magistrates and all officials, officers, and employees of the Judiciary. However, the high court granted the release only of the latest SALNs, any request for previous SALNs should be justified by the requestor.

The following are the guidelines drafted by the Supreme Court:

1. All requests shall be filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals; for the lower courts, with the Office of the Court Administrator; and for attached agencies, with their respective heads of offices.
2. Requests shall cover only copies of the latest SALN, PDS (personal data sheet) and CV (curriculum vitae) of the members, officials and employees of the Judiciary, and may cover only previous records is so specifically requested and considered as justified, as determined by the officials mentions in par. 1. above, under the terms of these guidelines and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA No. 6713.
3. In the case of requests for copies of SALN of the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals, the authority to disclose shall be made by the Court En Banc.
4. Every request shall explain the requesting party's specific purpose and their individual interests sought to be served; shall state the commitment that the request shall only be for the stated purpose; and shall be submitted in a duly accomplished request form secured from the SC website. The use of the information secured shall only be for the stated purpose.
5. In the case of requesting individuals other than members of the media, their interests should go beyond pure or mere curiosity.
6. In the case of the members of the media, the request shall additionally be supported by proof under oath of their media affiliation and by a similar certification of the accreditation of their respective organizations as legitimate media practitioners.
7. The requesting party, whether as individuals or as members of the media, must have no derogatory record of having misused any requested information previously furnished to them.

While the following are the regulatory mechanisms provided in Sec. 8 (c) and (d) of RA No. 6713:

(c) Accessibility of documents -
        (1) Any and all statements filed under this Act, shall be made available for inspection at reasonable hours. 
        (2) Such statements shall be made available for copying or reproduction after ten (10) working days from the time they are filed as required by law.
        (3) Any person requesting a copy of a statement shall be required to pay a reasonable fee to cover the cost of reproduction and mailing of such statement, as well as the cost of certification.
        (4) Any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public for a period of ten (10) years after receipt of the statement. After such period, the statement may be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation.
(d) Prohibited acts -- it shall be unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under this Act for:
        (a) any purpose contrary to morals or public policy; or
        (b) any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public.



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