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I wroruesoav, TTaRUARY 6, 2019

Opinion Adelle Chua, Fdrtor

Going against transparency

EW rules that make it more difficult to obtain aging to a politician-be it an
elected lawmaker or an officiirl
copies of the financial statements of members of
from the other two branches
the House of Representatives run counter to the of govemment. To say other-
Duterte administration's policy on transparent govemment wise exhibits an ignorance of
and are a step backward in efforts to engender trust in our how a constitutional democ-
racy should work----or a cynical
public officials. belief that those in power can
short circuit systemic checks
Under new rules adopted by the cates, extortionists and terrorists and balances-
House last week, the House ple- from obtaining the documents Finally. the argument that lhis
nary has the final say on whether and tampering with them for pur- would keep SALNs out of the
to approve or deny requests for poses of blackmail. hands of swindlers, syndicates,
lawmakers' Statements of Assets, Sadly, the onlv thing transpar- extortionists and terrorists who
Liabilities and Net Worth. 1 ent in iistro's d6fense"of the new might doctor the documents
The new rules. also require rulqs are the bogus reasons for lor their nefarious purposes is
those requesting SdLNs to iden- their adoption. laughable, since any such alter-
tifr themselves and provide a jus-.The ihtionale for transparent ations could be quickly exposed
tification for their request, which govemment is to make sure our by the simple expedient of com-
would be evaluated by a SALN public officials carry out the al- paring them with the originals.
Review and Compliance Com- lairs of state honestly, without di- The whole idea that a simple
mittee for approval or rejection. verting public funds to their own SALN request must pass muster
The House will also charge ,,bank .accounts. The SALN is an with the House plenary is per-
P300 for each SALN, which essential tool in this eiercise, and haps the most ridiculous impo-
means a requesting party would to that extent, so-called fishing sition ofall, as it suggests that a
need to pay P87,300 for the expeditions should be welcome i? simple clerical transaction must
SALNs ofall 291 lawmakers. they utrcover wrongdoing. Con- go through the same process as
Ffforts by House Majority greiisman' Castro shoulcl know a piece of legislation.
Leader Fredenil Castro said the this. After all, a fishin! expedi- Reacting to the new House
new rules will prevent fishing ex- tion of this sort by his colleagues rules, a presidential spokes-
pedition-and added ominously ied to an impeachment complaint man said, "We want the SALN
that the people's right to infor- against ousted chief justice Ma. to be readily available to the
mation ends when "you.damage Lourdes Sereno, which he sup- public." That is a view we
someone." ported. can all get behind. There is no
He also said that the new rules
The people's right to know cali to make the public jump
would prevent "unscrupulous most aisur'edly do-es not stop tkough new hoops for docu-
people" such as swindlers, syndi- lvhen information proves dam- ment they have a right to see.

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