Senate President and vice presidential aspirant Vicente Sotto III is the latest among a string of public officials that have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) as an example to other politicians.
With the looming national elections, Sotto said that the public expected transparency from government officers.
In 2018, Duterte released his SALN in which he declared a net worth of P28.5 million as of the end of 2017. This was also the last instance he released his SALN. In his first six months in office, his net worth shot up from over P24 million to more than P27 million. The increase, he said, was due to the excess in campaign contributions given him.
The Office of the Ombudsman is mandated by law as the custodian of the SALN of the president, vice president, chairpersons and commissioners of constitutional commissions and offices. However, Ombudsman Samuel Martires has refused public access to these despite being mandated by law to do so.
Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero, who is gunning for a senatorial seat, proposed mandatory signing of bank waivers together with the filing of SALN by all public officials and workers. These waivers would enable the Ombudsman to check all local and foreign bank deposits and investments of all public officials.
All 24 senators’ SALNs are published every year on the Senate’s website. The same goes for the SALNs of the House of Representatives, but only until 2018. The following year, rules were tightened such that a member’s SALN would only be released with the consent of the majority of the representatives.
Whether or not Sotto wanted the President to divulge his SALN was unclear. He did note however, that it was difficult to compel candidates to publicize their SALN as the Supreme Court would disallow it.
“If we say all candidates have to file their SALN, if somebody questions that, the SC already has jurisprudence,” he said. “The Supreme Court will call it unconstitutional.”