Palace sheds light on SALN redactions

By on September 26, 2017


The Palace façade featured on the briefing room signage (Photo By Office of the Executive Secretary - http://www.malacanang.gov.ph/, Public Domain)
The Palace façade featured on the briefing room signage (Photo By Office of the Executive Secretary – http://www.malacanang.gov.ph/, Public Domain)

MANILA— Malacañang on Tuesday, September 26, said items detailing the possessions, financial obligations, and properties of Cabinet officials would be disclosed in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

“The acquisition cost and the total net worth, the total assets, and the total liabilities will be disclosed,” Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan said in a press briefing in Malacañan.

He further noted that journalists may request the officials’ declaration and Malacañang would be willing to reissue the SALN that will disclose those details.

However, the Palace clarified that the practice of redacting the home address as well as the names of the unmarried minor children will be followed.

“Remember that in the SALN law, the only reason why you have to declare the names of the children is if they have any business interest. If there are none, then there might not be a need to disclose,” he said.

According to Ablan, a technical working group will be formed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to review the SALN guidelines, which may include the revision of the form on whether or not to include the names of the minor children, if there are no business interests at all.

During the same briefing, National Privacy Commission Deputy Commissioner Ivy Patdu said the CSC allows redaction of SALN in terms of the home address.

“Even the Ombudsman circular on disclosure of SALNs and even by practice, names of minor children and home address are already redacted,” she said.

“So there are also some points about whether a government official, a public personality, still has a right to privacy. Whether this right is no longer available if a person chooses to be in the public eye,” she added.

The Deputy Commissioner noted that the Data Privacy Act should not be used to shield public officials from scrutiny, especially when these are matters that are of legitimate public concerns.

“But neither should this law be ignored or should be set aside when what it is involved is personal information, because this law is for all of us,” she said.

“Information privacy is necessary for safety and security and it is for us to enjoy what we should enjoy as a democratic society. Both these rights are important and both these rights should be zealously guarded,” she added.