Palace vows to take out red tape in SALN dis­clo­sures

Business World - - THE NATION - By Ar­jay L. Bal­in­bin

THE PRES­I­DEN­TIAL Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Op­er­a­tions Of­fice (PCOO) vowed on Wed­nes­day, Feb. 14, that it would rec­om­mend to the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent (OP) the im­me­di­ate pub­lic dis­clo­sure of the state­ments of as­sets, li­a­bil­i­ties, and net worth (SALNs) of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

“We will rec­om­mend to proac­tively dis­close the SALN of of­fi­cials. The rec­om­men­da­tion will in­clude a man­i­fes­ta­tion that SALN is one of the most fre­quently re­quested doc­u­ments,” PCOO As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary and Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (FoI) Pro­gram Di­rec­tor Kris­tian R. Ablan said in a press brief­ing at Mala­cañang.

Mr. Ablan made this pro­nounce­ment when ques­tioned why the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is im­pos­ing an­other level of bureaucracy on the dis­tri­bu­tion of SALN copies to the me­dia.

Palace re­porters noted that SALN doc­u­ments were au­to­mat­i­cally dis­trib­uted to them with­out an FoI di­rec­tive in the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mean­while, the PCOO also an­nounced that it is con­sid­er­ing or­ga­niz­ing an FoI Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, which will be tasked to pro­vide “strate­gic pol­icy di­rec­tion and over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the FoI Pro­gram.”

The Com­mit­tee “will be com­posed of gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and non­govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Mr. Ablan said.

He added: “From the gov­ern­ment: PCOO as Chair; the Depart­ment of Jus­tice; the Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment; the Depart­ment of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy; the Na­tional Pri­vacy Com­mis­sion; the Na­tional Archives of the Philip­pines; one rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Se­nate; and, one rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

Mr. Ablan said rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the busi­ness sec­tor, the academe, civil so­ci­ety, and the me­dia will con­sti­tute the non­govern­ment mem­bers of the com­mit­tee.

Mr. Ablan said the PCOO is fo­cus­ing on “ex­pand­ing the pro­gram to lo­cal gov­ern­ment units (LGUs) with the help of the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG) through the pro­mo­tion of lo­cal FoI Or­di­nances.”

On Feb. 28, the PCOO will con­duct “an in-depth ori­en­ta­tion for the Mala­cañang Press Corps (MPC) to pro­vide more de­tails on how to ac­cess gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion.”

Mr. Ablan re­ported that the PCOO’s “FoI por­tal, www. foi.gov. ph, now has 3,253 on­line re­quests for in­for­ma­tion lodged for 218 na­tional gov­ern­ment agen­cies (NGAs) and gov­ern­ment-owned and/or -con­trolled cor­po­ra­tions (GOCCs) cur­rently on­board the plat­form. Out of these re­quests, 32% have been fa­cil­i­tated suc­cess­fully and 37% are cur­rently be­ing pro­cessed.”

“[ W]e re­main hope­ful that the FoI Bill will be passed to fur­ther strengthen this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts in pro­mot­ing trans­parency, ac­count­abil­ity, and cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion,” he added.

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